Obama Doesn’t Distinguish Between Legal/Illegal Immigration in Speech to Hispanics

By Penny Starr | May 13, 2011 | 4:51 PM EDT

President Barack Obama speaks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, May 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – In his speech at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Barack Obama did not make a distinction between legal and illegal immigration and compared illegal aliens to those people who immigrated legally to the United States through Ellis Island or other U.S. ports of entry.

In his speech, Obama referred to "immigrants" six times and "immigration" seven times and said the United States is a "nation of laws." But he did not use the words “legal” or “illegal” in his speech.

“It can be tempting to think that those coming to America today are somehow different from us,” Obama said. “And we need to not have amnesia about how we populated this country.”

Obama said we should “look at that migrant farmer and see our own grandfather disembarking at Ellis Island, or Angel Island in San Francisco Bay,” he said, “and to look at that young mother, newly arrived in this country, and see our own grandmothers leaving Italy or Ireland or Eastern Europe in search of something better.”

Obama referred to illegal aliens as “millions of people who live in the shadows” and are targeted by “unscrupulous businesses.”

According to the Department of Interior’s National Park Service, people who immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island had to have proper documents, and have the ability so they would not become “a public charge or an illegal contract laborer.”

Obama said people should keep “activating” and “mobilizing” to get immigration reform accomplished, a goal the president has repeatedly said should involve a “pathway to citizenship” for the 14 to 20 million illegal aliens estimated to be in the United States.

“And if you can do that, I’m absolutely confident that we will not only make sure America remains true to its heritage as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, but we’ll make sure we remain true to our founding ideals, and that we build a beloved community here on this Earth,” Obama said.