WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that if today's tough immigration laws were in place back when President Barack Obama's relatives came to the United States from Ireland, they wouldn't have been let in and Obama would never have been president.
During remarks at the Hispanic National Prayer Breakfast, Biden praised the Senate for moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform legislation and highlighted that both he and Obama have roots in Ireland. He said his great-great-grandfather emigrated from Ireland in 1850, worked for a year in the United States as a shoemaker and then sent for his family. Meanwhile, Biden continued, Obama's great-great-great-grandfather left the same county in Ireland within a month of Biden's relative.
“Isn’t that amazing?” Biden asked. “Barack Obama and I are now the president and vice president of the United States of America. If we applied the same standards that we are applying today, it wouldn’t have happened.”
The vice president also criticized Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for sponsoring a measure that would effectively demand that the government deport young, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children -- a group better known as Dreamers. The House passed King's amendment to the Department of Homeland Security spending bill mostly along party lines. It has no chance of moving in the Senate or being signed into law.
King is a "decent and honorable man," Biden told the crowd, but what he has "failed to understand" is that Dreamers are "our children." His comments drew loud applause in response.
Biden acknowledged that most of those at the event were Republicans, but said he's okay with that and encouraged them to keep pushing for immigration reform.
"I love you anyway," he said to laughs. "I pray for you."