Vice President Joseph Biden delivered the keynote address at a naturalization ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 14. There, he expressed his disappointment in House Speaker John Boehner’s declaration earlier in the week that comprehensive immigration reform legislation has no chance of passing through Congress by the end of the year.
Biden makes pitch for immigration reform
Biden made his remarks in front of 104 newly naturalized citizens and their families at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. Along with expressing his frustration with Boehner, Biden urged the immigrants who had just received citizenship to help advocate for immigration reform.
“Don’t pull up the ladder behind you when you come on board,” Biden told the crowd, according to CNN. “There are millions of people who are already acting as decent Americans that deserve a chance, that deserve a path, to earn their way … so reach back, help as you move on, and don’t be afraid.”
Biden highlights economic positives of immigrants
In his speech at the ceremony, Biden not only focused on immigration reform as a moral issue – relating an anecdote about how his mother told him not to treat the Queen of England any differently than he would anyone else, because everyone is equal – he also spoke to the economic and social benefits immigrants bring to the country.
“Studies show that, for example, if those 11 million people are let out of the shadows, the GDP of the United States will grow by an additional 5.4 percent over the next five years,” Biden said. “Another $1.7 trillion will be added to the economy. Social Security will be more solvent, not less solvent.”
Biden took advantage of the opportunity to speak in front of a friendly audience to continue making the pitch for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. It was part of a campaign by the Obama administration to refocus national attention on the issue.