President Obama spoke at a naturalization ceremony for 31 new American citizens at the National Archives yesterday, where he compared the current wave of immigrants to the waves of German, Scottish, Irish and German immigrants of the past. The president defended liberal immigration policy, saying that America betrays its history and its values when it fails to welcome those fleeing poverty, hunger, war and persecution from all over the world. “You don’t look alike. You don’t worship the same way, but here, surrounded by the very documents whose values bind us together as one people, you’ve raised your hands and sworn a sacred oath. I’m proud to be among the first to greet you as our fellow Americans,” Obama told the new citizens.
Obama’s speech continued as a direct counter argument to recent comments by GOP candidate Donald Trump, who said he would promise to halt all Muslim immigration. Even White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the president’s recent speech “stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric and divisiveness that will be on full display at the Republican debate tonight.”
Obama also made some comparisons with respect to recent immigrants and those of the past, saying “In the Muslim immigrant today, we see the Catholic immigrant of a century ago…In the Syrian refugee of today, we should see the Jewish refugee of World War II”.
Obama makes some great points on the Freedoms we need to maintain with respect to Religious rights and not forgetting we are country of immigrants. But the problem with Obama’s specific historical comparison he gives is that none of the Catholics and Jews he speaks of coming to the USA last century had the intention of killing Americans on a mass scale. It also seems questionable that many Jewish or Catholic-Americans would agree with his assessment that they are somehow similar to Muslims and Syrians.
Obama went on to mention the forced immigration of African slaves, anti-Catholic discrimination exhibited in signs reading, “No Irish need apply,” and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It should be interesting to see how the GOP candidates position themselves on this topic which seems to be on everyone’s minds following the recent ISIS attack in San Bernardino.