POLITICS
03/17/2017 01:52 pm ET Updated Mar 18, 2017

Irish Prime Minister Uses St. Patrick's Day To Praise Immigration In Front Of Trump

"We came ― and we became ― Americans.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny used his annual visit to the United States right before St. Patrick’s Day to throw a not-so-veiled rebuke at President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration proposals.

The takeaway: Saint Patrick himself was an immigrant, so don’t forget about the 35 million Irish immigrants who are vibrant contributors to the fabric of American society.

“Though he is of course the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he’s also a symbol of, indeed the patron of, immigrants,” Kenny said Thursday at a joint news conference with Trump. “We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came ― and we became ― Americans.”

Kenny also referenced the 50,000 Irish people living in the U.S. illegally, who he’d like to have a path to citizenship.

“We would like this to be sorted,” he said. “It would remove a burden of so many that they could now stand in the light and say, ‘Now I’m free to contribute to America as I know I can.’ That’s what people want.”

Irish and American progressive activists plan to host an event in favor of welcoming immigrants on Friday in New York City.

Trump did outwardly thank Irish immigrants for their contributions in his speech. But he has proposed a series of immigration-related measures in recent weeks that would upend many of the values that the United States has long clung to ― welcoming the stranger and offering safe haven to vulnerable being two of them.

Trump signed not one but two executive orders banning travel from some Muslim-majority countries and halting the refugee resettlement program. Both were temporarily blocked in federal court. He also unveiled a budget proposal Thursday that calls for a $54 billion boost in defense spending and immigration enforcement, including a border wall with Mexico.

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