Posted on September 22, 2010

Remarks by the President at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 33rd Annual Awards Gala

Press Release,, September 15, 2010

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

September 15, 2010

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you to Senator Menendez, and to the Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congresswoman Velázquez, for those extraordinary introductions, but more importantly for the outstanding work that you do each and every day. Please give them a huge round of applause. (Applause.) Thank you to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for inviting us this evening. Michelle and I are thrilled to be here with so many friends to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month.


I also want to acknowledge and thank all of the outstanding Latino leaders serving across my administration because I am proud that the number of Latinos I’ve nominated to Senate-confirmed positions at this point far exceeds any administration in history. (Applause.) And I’m especially proud that a whole bunch of them are Latinas. (Applause.)


Some take advantage of the economic anxiety that people are feeling to stoke fear of those who look or think or worship differently–to inflame passions between “us” and “them.”

I have news for those people: It won’t work. There is no “us” and “them.” In this country, there is only “us.” (Applause.) There is no Latino America or black America or white America or Asian America. There is only the United States of America–all of us. (Applause.) All of us joined together. Indivisible.


{snip} Today, the folks who yell the loudest about the federal government’s long failure to fix this problem are some of the same folks standing in the way of good faith efforts to fix it. (Applause.) And under the pressures of partisanship and election year politics, most of the 11 Republican senators who voted for that reform just four years ago have backed far away from that vote today.

That’s why states like Arizona have taken matters into their own hands. And my administration has challenged that state’s law–not just because it risks the harassment of citizens and legal immigrants, but it is the wrong way to deal with this issue. (Applause.) It interferes with federal immigration enforcement. It makes it more difficult for law–local law enforcement to do its job. It strains state and local budgets. And if other states follow suit, we’ll have an unproductive and unworkable patchwork of laws across the country.

We need an immigration policy that works–a policy that meets the needs of families and businesses while honoring our tradition as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. We need it for the sake of our economy, we need it for our security, and we need it for our future.


Now, the Senate is going to have a chance to do the right thing over the next few weeks when Senator Reid brings the DREAM Act to the floor. (Applause.) Keep in mind, in the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t receive that same kind of bipartisan support today. I’ve been a supporter since I was in the Senate, and I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ efforts to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country’s uniform. It’s the right thing to do. We should get it done. (Applause.)

Now, I want to be straight with you. To make real progress on these or any issues, we’ve got to break the Republican leadership’s blockade. {snip}

For example, consider the public servants I’ve nominated to carry out the people’s business. Most of them had been supported widely and approved unanimously by Senate committees. But they’ve been held up for months by the Republican leadership. We can’t even get an up-or-down vote on their confirmation. {snip}


And then they use their voice to drown out yours. To let Wall Street write rules that take advantage of Main Street. To let insurance companies write rules that let them cover or drop folks whenever and however they please. To go back to that “exact same agenda.”

Well, tell me you something. That agenda didn’t work out so well for the Latino community. It didn’t work out for anybody here in America. It is not going to solve the challenges we face. We can’t go backwards. We’ve got to go forwards.

So let me say this, not just to the folks who are in this room, but to the Latino community across this country. You have every right to keep the heat on me and keep the heat on the Democrats, and I hope you do. That’s how our political process works. (Applause.)


So let me close by saying this. Long before America was even an idea, this land of plenty was home to many peoples. To British and French, to Dutch and Spanish, to Mexican–(applause)–to countless Indian tribes. We all shared the same land. We didn’t always get along. But over the centuries, what eventually bound us together–what made us all Americans–was not a matter of blood, it wasn’t a matter of birth. It was faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear.