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Immigration has become a key subject during bilateral talks between U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, with particular focus on the state of Arizona's controversial new law.
Presidents Obama and Calderon addressed reporters in the White House Rose Garden Wednesday following roughly two hours of talks.
Mr. Obama said Arizona's new immigration law has the potential to be applied in a discriminatory fashion and application of the law could be troublesome. But he also said he understands the law reflects frustration with the failure of federal policies to address illegal immigration across the U.S. - Mexican border.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Calderon said they agree efforts must be made on both sides of the border to keep immigration safe, orderly and legal. He also said it will take a bipartisan effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.
Mr. Obama says such legislation would address both securing the borders and cracking down on companies that draw in and exploit illegal workers for cheap labor.
The Arizona law takes effect in a few weeks. It requires immigrants in Arizona to carry registration documents with them at all times and for police to question people if there is reason to believe they are illegal immigrants.
The two presidents say they discussed how economic development and job creation would help keep Mexican workers in Mexico.
The presidents also pledged to strengthen efforts on both sides of the border in the war on drug trafficking. Mr. Obama praised President Calderon's efforts against drug cartels and said his administration is working to stem the flow of money and weapons into Mexico.
Mr. Obama said the two also discussed regional issues such as the political situation in Honduras and earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, and educational issues including student exchanges between U.S. and Mexican universities and high schools.
The Obamas will host the Calderons at a state dinner Wednesday evening. The dinner is the second such event of Mr. Obama's presidency.
The Mexican leader is due to address the U.S. Congress on Thursday as part of his official visit.