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Calderon: Reinstate Assault Weapons Ban

Mexican President Felipe Calderon called for the reinstatement of a ban on the sale of assault weapons in the U.S. while reiterating his opposition to a controversial Arizona immigration law during an address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

Calderon, citing his administration’s efforts to address the growing violence on the border related to the drug trade, argued that the spike in violence resulted in part from the end of the assault weapons ban in 2004.

The Mexican president said his government is “facing organized crime with determination and courage. … However, there is one issue where Mexico needs your cooperation, and that is stopping the flow of assault weapons and other deadly arms across the border.”

“Let me be clear on this. I fully respect, I admire the American Constitution,” Calderon said. “I understand that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to guarantee the right of good American citizens to defend themselves and their nation. … But believe me, many of these guns are not going to honest American hands. Instead hundreds are going to the hands of criminals,” Calderon said. “The violence in Mexico started to grow … in 2006. This coincides with the lifting of the assault weapons ban in 2004.”

Calderon also lamented the continuing problems with illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border, noting that, “I’m not a president who likes to see Mexicans leave us.”

He said that his country is in favor of controls on the border and said he wants to work with the U.S. to fix the immigration system. Calderon held a joint press conference with President Barack Obama on Wednesday at which both leaders expressed support for comprehensive reform.

“For us, migration is not just your problem. … My government does not favor the breaking of rules. I fully respect the right of any country to enact and enforce its own laws. But what we need today is to fix a broken and inefficient system,” Calderon said. “I want to recognize the leadership of many of you in the Senate and in the House” on immigration.”

Calderon also echoed criticisms he made at the White House on Wednesday about Arizona’s new immigration law.

“I strongly disagree with your recently adopted law in Arizona. It is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree but also introduces the terrible idea of racial profiling as the basis of law enforcement,” he said. “The new law carries a great amount of risk.”

“I don’t want to deepen the gap … between our countries and our peoples.”

House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith blasted Calderon’s attacks and bristled at what he saw as interference in a domestic issue by a foreign leader.

“Officials of foreign governments should not interfere in domestic American affairs. Contrary to President Calderon’s statements, the Arizona immigration enforcement law expressly prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin four separate times. If those who demagogue the Arizona immigration enforcement law would just read the 18 pages of its text, they would see for themselves that it is a reasonable, constitutional approach to securing the border – a job the Obama administration has failed to do,” the Texas Republican said in a statement.

“Arizona has every right to protect its residents and demand a secure border, as do all the American people,” he added.

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