Mexican President Felipe Calderón visits Washington today on his first official state visit to discuss immigration and security with President Obama. President Calderón is also meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today. This evening, President Calderón and his wife, Maragrita Zavala, will be the guests of honor at a State Dinner to be held in the East Room of the White House. President Calderón will address a joint session of Congress at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.
Drug-related violence on the U.S.-Mexico border is a topic of discussion with President Calderón pressing Obama on the increased demand for drugs in the U.S. as fueling the increased violence. While Calderón has praised the Obama administration for acknowledging that many of the weapons used in crimes in Mexico originate in the U.S., further cooperation will be necessary to stem the violence. As Diana Villiers Negroponte writes in Americas Quarterly, the extension and expansion of the Merida Initiative will be critical to these efforts.
President Calderón, a vocal critic of Arizona’s SB1070, is expected to press for comprehensive immigration law reform at the federal level. In recent weeks, President Calderón has issued travel warnings for Mexicans traveling to Arizona amid increasing pressure at home to cut off commercial ties with Arizona for having passed SB1070 into law.
In remarks on the South Lawn today following a welcoming ceremony for the Mexican president, both leaders expressed their desire to work cooperatively to address these issues. President Calderón called for “a border that will unite us instead of dividing us,” with President Obama responding, “I say to you and the Mexican people: Let us stand together.”