Sunday, November 23, 2014

President Obama's Speech at Del Sol High School on Executive Action on Immigration

Two years after visiting Del Sol High School, in Las Vegas, President Barack Obama came back. Before an overwhelmingly Hispanic audience, and tired of anti-immigrant Republicans in the House of Representatives, the President promoted his executive action on immigration, a measure that will benefit around five million undocumented immigrants. Following is most of his speech:

"Two years ago we had a coalition. The senate bill wasn't perfect: It was a compromise. That's how things work in Congress. It was a good, common-sense bill that would've made our immigration system a lot better, with double the number of border patrol agents. And independent experts, not me, people who analyze the economy for a living, they said that over two decades the new law would grow our economy, shrink our deficits, in other words, it would help solve our problems in a bipartisan way."

"It has now been 512 days, a year and a half, in which the only thing standing in the way of that bipartisan bill and my desk, so that I can sign that bill, the only thing that's been standing in the way is a simple yes or no vote in the House of Representatives." [The House of Representatives is led by Republican politicians]. If they would have allowed a vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed. It would be the law right now."

Audience: "¡Sí se puede!, ¡Sí se puede!, ¡Sí se puede!." (Yes, we can!)

"But despite that, the leadership in the House of Representatives would not let it come forward, and I cajoled, and I called, and I met. I told John Boehner (the Speaker of the House), yeah, I'll wash your car, I'll walk you dog. Whatever you need to do. Just call the bill. That's how democracy is supposed to work."

"The time has been wasted, and during that time, families have been separated, and during that time, businesses have been harmed, and we can't afford it anymore."

"We're a nation of immigrants, and that means that we're constantly being replenished with strivers who believe in the American dream. And it gives us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It continues the promise that here in America, you can make it if you try, regardless of were you come from. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth."

"Over the past six years, illegal crossings have been cut by half. Don't let all the rhetoric fool you. The number of people trying to cross the border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent."

"I know some critics call this [executive] action amnesty. It's not amnesty. Amnesty really is the system that we got today. You got millions of people who are living here, but they are not obliged to pay their taxes, or play by the rules. And then politicians just use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. So they just want to keep the system as is. People living in the shadows, maybe providing cheap labor, not subject to any working protections, and then you pretend like you're being tough on immigration. That's not the right way to do it. That's the real amnesty: just talking, leaving  the system the way it is."

"Even Republicans who say that they don't want to pass this bill that was passed by these legislators
[the Senate}, they're not serious about trying to deport ten or eleven million people. That's all rhetoric."

"This is Not a Latino Issue. It's an American Issue"

"Understand that not everybody who comes here is Latino. Let me tell you, I'm from Chicago, and
We got some Irish immigrants whose papers are not in order. We got some Polish immigrants whose
papers are not in order. We got Ukrainian folks. Down in Florida, we got some Haitian folks.
This is not a Latino issue. It's an American issue. And we have to be realistic that tracking down
and deporting millions of people is not realistic. That's not who we are."

"Most undocumented immigrants are good, decent people. They have been here for a long time.
They work hard to support their families. They worship at our churches. Their kids go to school
with our kids."

"The actions that I've taken are not only lawful, they're the kinds of actions taken by every Republican President, and every Democrat president for the past half century. Ronald Reagan took action to keep families together, the first President Bush took action to shield about 40 percent of undocumented immigrants at the time."

"So when members of Congress question my authority to make our immigration system work better, I have a simple answer: Pass a bill. Pass a bill. Pass a bill. Nobody is stopping them from passing a bill."

Audience: "Pass a bill. Pass a bill. Pass a bill"

"But I understand that some of them are already saying that my actions sabotage their ability to pass a bill and make our immigration work better. Why? Why? I didn't resolve parliament."

"You don't need me to call a vote to pass a bill. Pass a bill. We should be creating new programs for farm workers. We should be adding visas for the high-tech sector. We should be creating a path to citizenship. Congress should certainly not shut down the government over this, because Americans are tired of gridlock. We're ready to move forward."

"America is not a nation that accepts the hypocrisy of workers who mow our lawns, make our bed, clean our bedpans, with no chance ever to get right with the law."

"America is not a nation that should be tolerating the cruelty of ripping children from their parents' arms."

"We didn't raise the statue of liberty with her back to the world. We did it with her light shining as a beacon to the world, and whether we were Irish or Italian, or Germans crossing the Atlantic, or Japanese or Chinese crossing the Pacific, whether we crossed the Rio Grande or flew in the air from all over the world, generations of immigrants have made this country into what it is. It's what makes us special. And whether we fled famine, or war, or persecution. Whether we have the right documents, or connections or skills, whether we were wealthy or poor, we all shared one thing: that hope that America would be the place where we could finally build a better life for ourselves, and for our children, and for future generations, hope that America is the place where we could make it. That's what makes us Americans. It's not what we look like, it's not what our last name is. It's not where we come from, it's not how we pray. What makes us American is a shared commitment to an ideal that all of us are created equal, and that all of us have a chance to make our lives what we will".

For generations, Americans by choice and Americans by birth have come together to renew that common creed and move this country forward. That brought us to this moment. That is the legacy that we now have to deliver to  the next generation."

"Thank you Nevada. God bless you. God bless the United States of America."

-President Barack Obama

Link to Spanish story/Enlace a historia en español.

Here is the video of the speech:

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