Obama and Calderón Meet at White House to Discuss Immigration and Drug War
May 20, 2010 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Mexican President Felipe Calderón met with President Barack Obama Wednesday at the White House to discuss bilateral issues such as illegal immigration in Arizona and the surge of drug violence along the countries’ shared border.
During a press conference in the Rose Garden, both Obama and Calderón criticized the new Arizona law that gives police officers more latitude to stop people on the suspicion that they are undocumented immigrants.
“I want everyone, American and Mexican, to know my administration is taking a very close look at the Arizona law,” Obama said, according to the New York Times. “We’re examining any implications, especially for civil rights, because in the United States of America, no law-abiding person, be they an American citizen, a legal immigrant, or a visitor or tourist from Mexico, should ever be subject to suspicion simply because of what they look like.”
Calderón said that many Mexicans now feel discriminated against in Arizona. Mexico “will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals. And we oppose firmly the SB-1070 Arizona law, given unfair principles that are partial and discriminatory,” he said, according to the New York Times.
Obama also reaffirmed his support for Calderón’s assault on drug cartels operating in Mexico and said the United States would give Mexico all the support it needs to prevail in the war. The Obama administration has followed through on the $1.4 billion aid package known as the Merida Initiative pledged by former President George W. Bush and has promised to help curb drug consumption in the U.S. as well as the flow of illegal firearms into Mexico.
However, human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch worry that Calderón’s military-heavy emphasis on combating the cartels puts civilians at risk as complaints of abuses by soldiers have significantly increased in the past few years.
“I don’t think, nor do I want, that the federal police or the army should be doing the police work in the communities, but if they are doing so it’s because there is not even a functioning local police force,” Calderón said, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. ” Our presence is temporary, aimed at creating some breathing space for local authorities to build their own authority and its own police force.”
Obama greeted Calderón during a ceremony on the White House’s South Lawn, followed by meetings in the West Wing during the day and in the evening there was a State Dinner at the White House. The State Dinner was only the second of Obama’s presidency; the first given last November for the visiting prime minister of India became infamous for the gatecrashers who made their way past the Secret Service.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- A special report on Colombia’s DAS intelligence service’s plan to disinform the public, impede political opposition and intimidate the country’s citizens.
- Read about the 16 people arrested in New York for acts of civil disobedience while protesting for comprehensive immigration reform at Alison Bowen’s blog Beyond Borders.
- An article on the struggles faced by undocumented immigrants who have graduated from college in the United States by Julio Salgado.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Arrests of people illegally crossing Mexico’s border with Arizona have risen since the enactment of the state’s new immigration law with U.S. Border Patrol reporting 148,000 more people arrested in the Tucson sector between October and April, 8,000 more than the same period a year ago.
- The majority of the police force in the small Mexican town of La Unión quit after armed men ambushed and wounded two of their officers. The state police from Guerrero, where La Unión is situated, deployed 20 officers to patrol the town until further notice.
- The United States is discussing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with the Cuban government.
- Actor Sean Penn, who has worked on international relief efforts in Haiti, testified before the U.S. Senate about the situation there.
- A man was arrested this week trying to board a plane in Puerto Rico, carrying weapons including a stun gun, a switchblade knife and box cutters.
- Honduras dropped a case accusing the Brazilian government of interfering in its internal affairs when it allowed ousted-President Manuel Zelaya to seek refuge at one of its embassies in 2009, according to The United Nation’s International Court of Justice.
- Authorities in El Salvador found some 300 tons of expired medicine buried in the town of Soyapango, about three miles east of the capital city of San Salvador.
- Global warming could hurt conditions for the best quality coffee beans in Central America and Mexico, according to a study of regional farms.
- A 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck northern Peru late Tuesday about 480 miles north of the capital, Lima. The quake was felt in the cities of Chimbote and Chiclayo but that there were no signs of damages.
- The head of Venezuela’s securities commission said country regulators took over management at 31 brokerage companies and are investigating what may be illegal currency-trading practices, money laundering and management problems.
- 2,000 migratory ducks from Canada died near San Martín, Colombia after eating poisoned rice on farmlands.
- The European Union made trade deals with Peru and Colombia, as well as Central America and the Mercosur bloc, during the summit in Madrid.
- Ecuador expects to be taken off a list of nations that don’t meet international standards in their fight against money laundering by June, according to the country’s attorney general.
- Brazil must invest $20 billion in infrastructure projects and public transportation for the the 2014 World Cup, according to the country’s sports minister.
- Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner criticized the British government for refusing to discuss the sovereignty of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands.
- The Pakistani man arrested in Chile on charges of illegal possession of explosives said Tuesday that he was innocent and his detention was “a big misunderstanding stemming from a mistaken identity.”
- The police chief of Montevideo, Uruguay was shot in the leg during a soccer match between Uruguayan rival teams Peñarol and Nacional.
- $110,000 was stolen from the Paraguayan World Cup soccer team while they trained in Evian les Bains, France.
Image: Gobierno Federal @ Flickr.