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Mexico's President Addresses US Congress

Mexico's president is appealing directly to the American people and their elected leaders to reform immigration laws, and strengthen gun control along the U.S.-Mexican border.  

The Mexican president was cheered as he entered the House chamber, and was introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you, his Excellency Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, the President of Mexico," said Nancy Pelosi.

From his first words, this speech was different.

"It is a great honor to stand before you today," said President Calderon.

Usually, foreign leaders address Congress in their native language.  But President Calderon chose English, instead of Spanish.

"I have come here as your neighbor, as your partner, as your ally, and as your friend," he said.

It was a sign that his remarks were not designed for domestic consumption in Mexico, but rather to capture the attention of the American public.

He spoke bluntly, as sometimes only a friend can do.  He talked about border violence, and the need to find a way to curb illegal immigration.

The Mexican leader said comprehensive immigration reform is critical to border security.

"What we need today is to fix a broken and inefficient system," said Felipe Calderon.

President Calderon went on to criticize a new law in the border state of Arizona that requires police to question anyone they believe may be in the country illegally.  That law was sparked, in part, by an outbreak of violence along the border.

Mexico's president said his government is making an all out effort to go after criminals and drug gangs responsible for the bloodshed.  He said America must do its part by re-imposing a ban on the sale of military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Mr. Calderon said these assault weapons are fueling the violence.

"We have seized 75,000 guns and assault weapons in Mexico in the last three years," he said. "On more than 80 percent of those we have been able to trace, [they] came from the United States."

The Mexican president was the first foreign head of state or government to address Congress this year.  On Wednesday, he was honored at the White House with all the trappings of a state visit.   

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