Obama speaks on immigration at naturalization ceremony

Sarah Menendez Dec 15, 2015

President Obama spoke against anti-immigrant sentiment today at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens in Washington D.C., in the wake of rising antagonism against Muslim and other immigrants in the U.S. Thirty-one immigrants from 25 different countries were sworn in at the National Archives on the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights.

Obama’s speech was centered on the history of America as an immigrant nation, reminding the audience that everyone in the U.S. has an immigrant background except Native Americans.

He spoke about the many waves of immigration in the nation’s history and the discrimination some groups faced, such as Irish people being denied work in the 1860s and Japanese internment camps in the 1940s. Throughout the speech he spoke of the need to value immigrants and refugees, claiming that they “revitalize and renew America.”

This comes as multiple hate crimes against Muslims have been reported across the country following the San Bernardino shooting and a week after Donald Trump’s comments about banning Muslim immigrants.

“The biggest irony of course was —  is that those who betrayed these values were themselves the children of immigrants.  How quickly we forget,” Obama said. “We must resolve to always speak out against hatred and bigotry in all of its forms — whether taunts against the child of an immigrant farmworker or threats against a Muslim shopkeeper.”

He also used the speech to comment the anti-refugee sentiment expressed by a number of politicians. Following the Paris terror attacks, 25 U.S. governors stated that they will refuse to accept any refugees into their state borders, despite the fact that they cannot legally do so. Obama compared past generations of immigrants and refugees to today.

“In the Syrian seeking refuge today, we should see the Jewish refugee of World War II,” said Obama. “In these new Americans, we see our own American stories.”

 

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