U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Mexican President Felipe Calderon during welcoming ceremonies on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on May 19,2010. The two leaders pledged cooperation on immigration and drug wars on both sides of the border. UPI/Pat Benic | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and his Mexican counterpart pledged Wednesday to work together on border security, migration, drug-trafficking and economic issues.
Obama, in an appearance with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in the White House Rose Garden, called him "a true partner" in pursuing these and other areas of common national interest.
"To create jobs and increase our competitiveness in the global economy, we agreed to streamline regulations and strengthen the protection of intellectual property," Obama said. "For the sake of our shared prosperity and security, we discussed the need for immigration that is orderly and safe, and we acknowledged that both our countries have responsibilities. President Calderon is working hard to create jobs so that more Mexicans see a future of opportunity in their country.
"To fix our broken immigration system, I reaffirmed my deep commitment to working with Congress in a bipartisan way to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"We also discussed the new law in Arizona, which is a misdirected ... expression of frustration over our broken immigration system, and which has raised concerns in both our countries.
"And I want everyone, American and Mexican, to know my administration is taking a very close look at the Arizona law. 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."
Calderon said Mexico and the United States "complement each other economically" and have a relationship "based on trust, respect and co-responsibility."
"As the president has stated, we gave special attention to the border matters," Calderon said. "We will strengthen the coordination among the government officials on both sides of the border to reinforce security.
"We want to make this quite clear: We, both countries, want to have a safe border, a safe border for our people. We agreed upon the urgency to reinforce the actions to stop the flow of drugs, weapons and cash."
"In reference to the migratory issue, I acknowledge the sensitivity and the commitment of President Obama to look for a comprehensive solution that will be respectful of the rights of the individual and will be adjusting itself in a realistic way to the needs of both our economies.
"But we will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will [not] be treated as criminals."
He said Mexico firmly opposes the Arizona law, which he called "discriminatory."
Calderon, who is visiting with his wife Margarita Zavala, was the first foreign leader Obama met after his election and Mexico was the first foreign trip first lady Michelle Obama took solo.
In the evening, the Obamas will host a state dinner for Calderon and Zavala, followed by a reception.
Calderon is to speak to a joint session of Congress Thursday.