Monday at North High School in Des Moines, IA, President Barack Obama said the notion that people who illegally come to live in the United States, as they have for generations, are suddenly now “less worthy in the eyes of God,” is “un-American.”
Obama said, “This whole anti-immigrant sentiment that is out there in politics right now is contrary to who we are. Because unless you are a native American, your family came from someplace else. And although we are a nation of laws and we want people to follow the law, and I have been pushing Congress to make sure we have strong borders and we are keeping everybody moving through legal processes, don’t pretend that somehow 100 years ago the immigration process was smooth and strict. That is not how it worked. There are a bunch of folks who came here from all over Europe, all throughout Asia, all throughout Central America, and certainly who came from Africa. It was not some orderly process where all the rules applied and everything was strict, and I came the right way. That is not how it worked.”
He continued, “So the notion that now suddenly that one generation or even four or five generations removed, that suddenly we are treating new immigrants as if they are the problem when your grandparents were treated like the problem or your great-grandparents were treated like the problem or were considered unworthy, uneducated, or unwashed—no, that is not who we are. That is not who we are. We can have a legitimate debate about how to set up an immigration system that is fair and orderly and lawful.
“I think the people who came here illegally should have the consequences of paying a fine and getting registered, and all kinds of steps they should have to take in order to get right with the law,” Obama added. “But when I hear folks talking as if somehow these kids are different from my kids were less worthy—or less worthy in the eyes of God? That somehow they are less worthy of our respect and consideration and care? I think that is un-American. I do not believe that. I think it is wrong. And I think we should do better because that is how America was made, by us caring about all of our kids. Thanks everybody.”
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