President Obama blasted the ongoing debate surrounding illegal immigrants in the United States, criticizing Republicans for being “un-American” for suggesting that the laws should be enforced.
Obama made his remarks while visiting a High School in Des Moines, Iowa, hosting a town hall to discuss the importance of a college education.
“This whole anti-immigrant sentiment that’s out there in our politics right now is contrary to who we are,” he said. “Because unless you’re Native American, your family came from someplace else.”
Obama ridiculed the notion that immigration to America was ever orderly and rigidly enforced.
“Don’t pretend that somehow a hundred years ago the immigration was all smooth and strict — that’s not how it worked,” he said, pointing out that millions of immigrants arrived from all around the world. “It wasn’t some orderly process, where all the rules applied and all the rules were strict, and ‘I came the right way.’”
Criticizing illegal immigrants, he explained, was contrary to the American way of life. “That’s not who we are,” he insisted.
Illegal immigrants, he suggested, should be registered and pay a fine for their illegal actions so they could “get right with the law.”
Obama reminded the crowd that children who were brought by their parents at a young age were Americans “by every other criteria except for a piece of paper” and should be welcomed by their peers. He encouraged illegal immigrants to apply for federal loan programs anyway, because some states or universities might qualify them for private funding.
“When I hear folks talkin’ as if somehow these kids are different than my kids or less worthy in the eyes of God, that somehow that they are less worthy of our respect and consideration and care, I think that’s un-American,” he said. “I don’t believe that, I think it is wrong and I think we should do better, because that’s how America was made.”