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Calderon, Obama talk immigration

By ABBY SEWELL, MEDILL NEWS SERVICE, Written for UPI   |   May 19, 2010 at 3:13 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama took a shot at Republicans for their reluctance to work with the Democrats on immigration reform at a White House appearance Wednesday with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Immigration, border security and economic development were primary topics of discussion at bilateral meetings between the two leaders and official delegations from their countries Wednesday.

Obama restated his commitment to a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would include border security measures, enforcement against employers who hire illegal immigrants and a path to legalization for the millions of people living in the United States illegally.

But he said the political challenge will be to find enough Republican supporters to form a filibuster-proof 60-member majority in the U.S. Senate to back immigration reform legislation.

"I don't expect to get every Republican vote but I need some help in order to get it done," Obama said.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on a reform framework this spring but Graham pulled back after the Democratic leadership suggested that immigration reform might bump climate change on the legislative agenda and Democrats have been unable to find another Republican to take his place.

Both Obama and Calderon repeated past public criticisms of an anti-illegal immigration state law in Arizona that requires local police to enforce immigration statutes and which opponents claim will lead to racial profiling.

Obama said the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the Arizona rule for compliance with federal laws and will report its findings soon.

The leaders reaffirmed mutual support and the interdependence of their two countries. They pledged to work together on stemming the flow of drugs from Mexico to the United States and the southbound flow of weapons and money from the United States.

At the same time, they emphasized the need to streamline the flow of legal commerce across the border.

While the leaders said they had discussed trade issues, they didn't speak directly about a dispute between the countries over Mexican truckers being denied access to the United States.

Both characterized the talks as fruitful.

"The areas where we agreed are broader than our differences," Calderon said through a translator.

The Mexican president's 2-day visit includes a dinner Wednesday night -- the second state dinner of Obama's presidency -- and an address to Congress Thursday.

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