EL PASO — President Barrack Obama embarked on a trip to Texas on Tuesday and paid a visit to El Paso to renew his push for immigration reform reminding us that America was built by immigrants and that we should welcome those who are willing to embrace our ideals.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from. What matters is that you believe the ideals on which we were founded, that you believe all of us are equal,” said Obama. “In embracing America, you can become American. That is what makes this country so great.”
Immigration reform has been a long hot-button issue for both Democrats and Republicans and with the 2012 elections heating up, both parties are taking advantage of bringing the topic up to Congress and citizens all over the country. In his speech, Obama mentioned that there are 11 million people who are in the United States illegally and although he has sympathy for them stating that they are just trying to earn a living, what it comes down to is that they are breaking the law.
“We have to acknowledge that they’ve broken the rules, they’ve cut in front of the line,” said Obama. “And what is also true is that the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying immigrate legally.”
Obama continued to say that those who are here illegally have a responsibility as well. They have to pay their taxes, pay fines, and learn English. They also have to undergo background checks before they get in line for legalization. The president does however want to help illegal immigrants as much as possible to get them legalized. He went on to say that we are all aware that the system is broken and he mocked the GOP for setting impossible obstacles in front of laws that could aid illegal immigrants tremendously.
Obama explained that the House had passed the DREAM Act, which his administration administered, and later Republicans voted no. The DREAM Act would have provided certain illegal and deportable alien students with conditional permanent residency under certain conditions.
“We should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents,” said Obama. “We should stop denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military. And that’s why we need to pass the DREAM Act.”
When several Republicans voted no on the DREAM Act Obama expressed his feelings that he and many other supporters were disappointed.
“These are kids who grew up in this country,” explained Obama. “They love this country. They know no other place to call home. The idea that we’d punish them is cruel. It makes no sense. We’re a better nation than that.”
There were however protesters at the president’s speech, but there were many supporters there as well in agreement with Obama’s policies. One in particular was elated to show her support for the president.
“We’re honored to have the president here, we welcome him and we’re excited that he’s recognizing El Paso as a special place in this argument. We live right on the border and this impacts us so much,” said Cristina Parker, member of the Border Network for Human Rights organization. “The need to reform border security, to reform immigration, it means a lot to us, so we’re very happy he’s here.”
Parker speaks for her organization in that they are not protesting and they support the president 100 percent, but they just want to remind him that his promise from 2008 to make immigration reform a top priority of his administration has not been fulfilled yet but they do recognize he is making efforts by coming to El Paso to personally speak about it.
Aside from that, Obama talked about certain key issues in his speech like keeping jobs here in America and the fence along the border, mostly though he talked about the United States being a country where anyone can become the American dream. Obama pointed out a man in attendance by the name of Jose Hernandez who was born to farm workers in California but did not learn how to speak English until he was 12 years old. With hard work and dedication, Hernandez graduated from high school and later college and followed his dreams in becoming an astronaut for N.A.S.A.
Ending his speech on a good positive note, Obama and his fellow Democrats are hoping to use their advantage among Hispanics to make dents in GOP states such as Texas. He also promises to continue to push for immigration reform in the next upcoming election, as long as we the people do our part as well.