Mexico President Calderon visits California

December 22, 2008 2:12:36 PM PST
Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Wednesday acknowledged tensions between the U.S. and Mexico over illegal immigration but stressed that both countries have an interest in ensuring their citizens can cross the border legally and safely.

Addressing a joint session of the California Legislature, Calderon said the economies of the two countries are interdependent. For that reason, there must be "shared responsibility" for immigration on both sides of the border.

"I know that immigration is a controversial issue today in this great nation. But I strongly believe that Mexican and Mexican-American workers are a large reason for the dynamic economy of California," he said in prepared remarks.

"Our nations will never find prosperity by closing their doors."

Calderon, who was making his first visit to the U.S. since winning office, said Mexico had taken steps to strengthen security at the border and improve its economy.

He said the government has stepped up law enforcement against drug traffickers and organized crime. Calderon cited the seizure of large amounts of cocaine and cash, which has driven up the price of drugs in America by nearly 50 percent last year.

The government also has reformed the country's tax and pension systems, attracted a record $23 billion in foreign investment and lowered inflation. He also said it is embarking on a $250 billion, five-year infrastructure plan to improve the country's harbors, airports and highways.

Despite those efforts, Calderon said Mexico needs more cooperation from the U.S. and California.

He urged a comprehensive approach to immigration, considering its economic, political and social implications for both countries.

Mexico needs investment from California and the rest of the nation, he said, while U.S. prosperity depends on Mexican laborers.

"We need to make migration legal, safe and organized," he said.

"The choice is not between migration and security or between migration and prosperity," Calderon said. "The choice is between a future of integration and success or a future of distrust and resentment. The choice is ours. The time is now."


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