President jpg

Obama pledges to fight for immigration change

President jpg

President jpg

President Obama pledges to do “everything I can” to make immigration more equitable. White House Photo.

By Ray O’Hanlon

With his executive immigration initiatives stalled by court actions, President Obama has pledged to do everything he can to make the immigration system more equitable.

And in his weekly address, which was focused on celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month, the president focused on an Irish immigrant living in Virginia as an example of the immigration system working at its best.

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“Of course, we can’t just celebrate this heritage, we have to defend it – by fixing our broken immigration system,” said the president in his national broadcast on Saturday, June 6.

“Nearly two years ago, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to do that. They passed a commonsense bill to secure our border, get rid of backlogs, and give undocumented immigrants who are already living here a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, paid their taxes, and went to the back of the line. But for nearly two years, Republican leaders in the House have refused to even allow a vote on it,” he said.

“That’s why, in the meantime, I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system more just and more fair. Last fall, I took action to provide more resources for border security; focus enforcement on the real threats to our security; modernize the legal immigration system for workers, employers, and students; and bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can get right with the law.

“Some folks are still fighting against these actions. I’m going to keep fighting for them. Because the law is on our side. It’s the right thing to do. And it will make America stronger.

Looking back at his own, multiple, immigrant roots, Mr. Obama included Ireland.

“I think about my grandparents in Kansas – where they met and where my mom was born. Their family tree reached back to England and Ireland and elsewhere. They lived, and raised me, by basic values: working hard, giving back, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

In the context of Immigrant Heritage Month the White House had asked immigrants to share their stories by way of the White House website.

And one immigrant who did so was featured in the president’s talk.

“I want us to remember people like Ann Dermody from Alexandria, Virginia,” said Mr. Obama.

“She’s originally from Ireland and has lived in America legally for years. She worked hard, played by the rules and dreamed of becoming a citizen. In March, her dream came true. And before taking the oath, she wrote me a letter. ‘The papers we receive…will not change our different accents [or] skin tones,’ Ann said.

‘But for that day, at least, we’ll feel like we have arrived.’”

Concluded the president: “Well, to Ann and immigrants like her who have come to our shores seeking a better life – yes, you have arrived. And by sharing our stories, and staying true to our heritage as a nation of immigrants, we can keep that dream alive for generations to come.”

In contrast to Ann Dermody’s fortunate attaining of citizenship, thousands of her fellow Irish continue to live in the shadows of illegality as comprehensive reform bounces around Congress and the courts, seemingly going nowhere.