On May 5, at a celebration of Cinco de Mayo held at the Naval Observatory, Vice President Joe Biden called on Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, to stand firm against other Republicans who are not open to immediate immigration reform. The vice president spoke in front of a crowd of approximately 100 people at the event, many of whom were members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
“It’s time for him to stand up, stand up and not let the minority — I think it’s a minority — of the Republican Party in the House keep us from moving in a way that will change the circumstances for millions and millions of lives,” Biden said.
Over the past few months, Boehner has been at the center of the politically-charged immigration reform debate. Some political analysts suspected he would aggressively push the House to act on immigration reform even though he was experiencing a lot of opposition from his own party. Many Republicans and a few Democrats in the House fought against the legislation that was passed in the Senate. The bill would have provided a way for undocumented immigrants to apply for legal residence in the U.S.
Earlier this year in March, Biden confidently stated his support for undocumented immigrants, saying that they are already Americans. Opponents of comprehensive legislative reform harshly criticized his comments, but Biden reasserted his belief at the celebratory Cinco de Mayo event.
“They are Americans,” Biden said. “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.”