By Sam Youngman - 05/19/10 02:14 PM EDT
President Barack Obama welcomed his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, to the White House Wednesday for the second state visit of the administration.
The presidents wasted no time wading into the issue of immigration, which has become a focal point of the visit, as Calderon blasted a controversial new law in Arizona that he says is discriminatory. He called for a shared border that will "unite us."
In brief remarks at the welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn, Obama and Calderon both stressed the need for cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico as they address immigration, the illegal drug trade and the economy.
“The United States and Mexico are not simply neighbors bound by geography and history,” Obama said. “We are by choice friends and partners.”
Obama said that “together we can create jobs and prosperity for our people and that, together, the two countries can secure the U.S.-Mexican border."
Calderon lamented the Arizona law, saying that it and other immigration laws are forcing Mexican immigrants to live in the “shadows.”
"Today, Mexico and the United States are facing common challenges," Calderon said. "We are facing organized crime, climate change, migration. This is the moment not to overlook the fact of reproaching each other in the things that really hurt us."
Calderon said the two countries must work together to “create a safer border, a border that will unite us instead of divide us."
Calderon and Obama were scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting Wednesday morning before appearing together at a joint press conference just before noon.