In an inspired keynote speech at an awards dinner for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington, President Obama criticized Republican presidential candidates for “turning the clock back” on issues like immigration reform
Obama proclaimed that America is better off “by most standards” than when he took office in 2009, and he questioned why “some folks [Republicans] are so down on America.”
“They have invented this new reality where everything was terrific back in 2008, when the unemployment and uninsured rates were rising and DREAMers lived in fear of deportation and [Osama] bin Laden was still at large,” Obama said.
“That was the golden era apparently, the good ole days. Then I came and messed it all up.”
He blasted Republicans for their desire to turn the clock back furthest on immigration, and he pointed out that immigration reform was a top priority for his predecessor, President George W. Bush.
He scolded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for abandoning immigration reform after sponsoring the 2013 sweeping reform bill in the Senate:
“Some of the very same Republican politicians who championed immigration reform in the past, some of whom sponsored these efforts, suddenly they want nothing to do with it. That’s not leadership, turning against what’s right the moment the politics of your base gets tough.”
President Obama also called out Donald Trump for his incendiary immigration rhetoric and noted, “America’s greatness does not come from building walls,” He then accused Republicans of sowing the seeds of “intolerance.”
“Leadership is not fanning the flames of intolerance and acting all surprised when a fire breaks out. Saying clearly inflammatory things and then saying, ‘That’s not what I meant,’ until you do it again and again and again,” he said.
“The anti-immigrant sentiment that has infected our politics is not new but it is wrong. … Unless you are Navajo or Cherokee, somebody somewhere came from someplace else.”