Local
10:06 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Biden Talks Immigration Reform in Atlanta

Immigration reform was the over-arching theme of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit  to the King Center in Atlanta Thursday.

During a naturalization ceremony, Dr. Bernice King, the daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., welcomed the group of new citizens to the “American family.” She also addressed comprehensive immigration reform.

“No human being is ‘illegal’ or ‘alien’ because we are all God’s children,” King said. “Therefore, our country must have humane immigration reform that ensures all people that come to this nation are treated with respect and dignity.”

King said that includes a path to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.The vice president agreed. He encouraged the new citizens to support the Obama Administration’s immigration reform efforts.

“Don’t pull up the ladder behind you, now that you’ve climbed on board,” Biden said. “Don’t pull that ladder up. There are millions of people that are already acting as decent Americans that deserve a chance.” He told the new U.S. citizens the country is stronger because of them.

Vice President Joe Biden (right) and Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Alejandro Majorcas (left).
Vice President Joe Biden (right) and Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Alejandro Majorcas (left).
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

“The truth of the matter is, you’ve been Americans for a long time, long before you raised your right hand today because you’ve all adhered to the idea of America,” he said.

That message struck a chord with new citizen Luis Bautista.

“I work, pay my taxes, go to school, I finally got a good job now,” Bautista said. “It kind of like resonated. In some way, I think I kind of contributed to this country even before this day.”

The vice president expressed disappointment that House leadership decided not to go to conference on a Senate immigration bill passed earlier this year. That means any congressional action on immigration reform is unlikely before the end of the year.