SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Mexican President Felipe Calderon told a joint session of California’s Legislature on Wednesday that the United States and Mexico are at a historical point in their relationship and called for comprehensive immigration reform.
“Future generations will judge us by the decisions we (make) today,” Calderon said in his first visit to California since he was elected in 2006. “Did we work together to provide organized and humane migration, or did we continue to allow hundreds to die each year?”
Mexico “loses a great deal” with each Mexican who makes the dangerous trek across the border in search of better jobs, Calderon said. Hundreds die during the journey, and the president said immigration costs his nation “our bravest, our youngest and our strongest people.”
“My administration is working hard to create the conditions that will enable each Mexican to find, in our land, well-paid opportunities for employment,” Calderon said, adding that Mexico has taken steps to tighten border security.
Mexico and the United States, he said, “must take a comprehensive approach” to immigration that is “legal, safe and organized.”
Unlike two years ago, when about a half-dozen Republican lawmakers boycotted Mexican President Vicente Fox’s speech to the Legislature in a protest over illegal immigration, Calderon was warmly received.
But after the speech, Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock said it was “inappropriate” for Calderon to “lecture” the Legislature about U.S. policies.
“I don’t think it’s any of Mexico’s business what America does with its own immigration policy, just as it’s none of America’s business what Mexico does with immigration policy,” McClintock said.
Wednesday was the final day of Calderon’s five-day coast-to-coast tour of the United States during which he sought to allay concerns that his nation is indifferent to illegal immigration to this country.