During a town hall event in Nashville, President Barack Obama admitted that he still had difficulty speaking to Republicans about the importance of immigration reform.
Obama explained that it was important to set up a fair legal system that “reflected human nature” and “the wisdom of the American people” instead of one that separated families.
“Now, does that mean everybody is going to listen to me, on the other side,” he said. “Not necessarily, they’re pretty sure I’m an illegal immigrant.”
After the audience laughed, Obama added, “That was a joke.”
Obama then reminded the audience that he was of Irish heritage–pointing out that one of his ancestors was a boot maker in Ireland.
The Irish, he added, were once discriminated against when they emigrated from Ireland in large numbers.
“Read your history and look at how people talked about Irish immigrants,” Obama said.
Obama also pointed out that many Americans who opposed immigration reform should remember where their ancestors came from.
“Look, immigration, as I said before, has always elicited passion and it’s ironic because unless you are a member of an American Tribe, you came here from somewhere else,” Obama reminded his critics.
Obama said that people who asserted that they came to America the “right way” didn’t have to deal with the bureaucratic difficulties that immigrants had to deal with today.
“It wasn’t always neat and orderly,” he asserted.
“What happens is once folks are here, we kinda forget that we used to be there,” he explained, asking people to put their feet in their shoes and “show some empathy.”