Biden: It is time for Republicans to stand up for immigration

Vice President Joe Biden urged the Republican Party on Monday “to stand up” for immigration reform and keep “moving in a way that will change…

Vice President Joe Biden, center, smiles after arriving for a graduation ceremony at the Miami Dade College in Miami, Saturday, May 3,2014. Biden said a “constant, substantial stream of immigrants” is important to the American economy. He also spoke for immigration reform during a Cinco de Mayo celebration the next day. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Vice President Joe Biden urged the Republican Party on Monday “to stand up” for immigration reform and keep “moving in a way that will change the circumstances for millions and millions of lives.”

Biden celebrated the Cinco de Mayo with an address to a group of notable Latinos with a main message to House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican Party.

“The message is simple. We don’t have to redouble our efforts. We have to redouble or demand… for the House to take up the bill,” he said.

Biden added that passing immigration reform would be a “shot in the arm” for the country.

“To continue the dreams of all the American people, we have got to get 11 million people out of the shadows. It’s not just to benefit those 11 million people, it’s badly needed for the country. The country needs a shot in the arm and this would give it a considerable shot in the arm.”

He continued by defending remarks he made in February that ignited some controversy:

“And I know I was criticized for saying a couple of months ago in Florida that these 11 million folks in the shadows are already Americans and I got pretty roundly criticized for that. But they are Americans. They may not be citizens, but they are Americans. In the definition of Teddy Roosevelt, he said Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed or line of descent, it’s a question of principles, idealism, and character. And I would argue that those 11 million folks who have been here breaking their neck, working hard, they are Americans.”

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As he made a roll call of the dignitaries present, he referenced Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who made a reference to Biden’s virtual appearance at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner on Saturday. To which the VP replied, “Anyway, I just wish I could have kept that Corvette.”

Sharing values and a common history with Mexico

“We share so much more in common with Mexico than just a border,” Biden said. “We share values, a common history, and I think common dreams.”

Biden quoted the late writer Gabriel García Márquez. “It’s not true that people stop pursuing their dreams when they became old. They become old because they stop pursuing their dreams.”

Biden highlighted efforts by the administration to help Hispanic Americans, including a 30 percent reduction in the high school dropout rate.

The success story of SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of five also came to light in his speech: “Her mom has said she wanted her to be a secretary. She’s a hell of a secretary now.”

The vice president went on to share the Lee Kuan Yew story about China’s search for America’s ‘black box.’ He said that the two keys to American success are a culture in which orthodoxy is supposed to be challenged and its sustained stream of immigrants.

Biden recounted a list of economic benefits of passing immigration reform. “It’s the exact opposite of what the right has been preaching, what the nativists have been preaching for a long time. They are not necessarily one in the same, I want to make clear.”

He closed by saying that passing immigration reform would help American foreign policy in the western hemisphere. “So folks, it’s important for a thousand reasons why we get this done.”

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