WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama criticized Arizona’s tough immigration law Wednesday as “misdirected” and said it has the potential to be applied in a discriminatory fashion. He called for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws and said that can’t be done unless Republicans support it.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Obama said the Arizona law, which makes it a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally, came about because of “frustration over our broken immigration system.”
Obama has directed the Justice Department to review the law and said he expects to receive a final report soon.
Calderon shares Obama’s opposition to the Arizona law, and has faced pressure from lawmakers at home to raise the issue of immigration reform during his visit to Washington. He said the law criminalized migration and could encourage discrimination.
Calderon also called for the U.S. and Mexico to work together to solve the complex, politically sensitive immigration issue.
“We can do so if we create a safer border, a border that will unite us instead of dividing us, uniting our people,” Calderon said. “We can do so with a community that will promote a dignified life in an orderly way for both our countries.”
Almost twice as many people support the Arizona law as those who oppose it, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll this month. It found that 42 percent favored it, 24 percent opposed it and another 29 percent said they were neutral.
The two leaders spoke during a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden following a private meeting. Obama will host Calderon at a formal state dinner Wednesday night.