WASHINGTON — Mexican President Felipe Calderon took his opposition to a new Arizona immigration law to Congress Thursday, saying it “ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree.”

Calderon’s comments on the Arizona law and his request that Congress do something about the availability of high-powered weapons along the border drew criticism from several lawmakers saying he was interfering in U.S. internal matters.

The Mexican leader also told lawmakers reluctant to take up the immigration issue this year that comprehensive immigration reform is crucial to securing the two countries’ common border.

Calderon, the first foreign national leader to address Congress this year, said he strongly disagrees with the Arizona law that requires police to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.

“It is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree but also introduces a terrible idea using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement,” he said to cheers, mainly from the Democratic side of the chamber.

Speaking in English, he warned of the risk when “core values we all care about are breached.”

Arizona’s senior Republican senator, John McCain was not present at the joint meeting, while the office of Jon Kyl, the other Arizona senator, did not respond immediately to inquiries about whether Kyl was present.

McCain attended a lunch with Calderon at the State Department Wednesday.

McCain issued a statement that it was “unfortunate and disappointing the president of Mexico chose to criticize the state of Arizona by weighing in on a U.S. domestic policy issue during a trip that was meant to reaffirm the unique relationship between our two countries.”