In a speech on immigration reform, President Barack Obama paid tribute to an Irish woman, Ann Dermody, who had recently become a U.S. citizen.
The president said Dermody “worked hard,” “played by the rules,” and had realized her “dream” of becoming a citizen, the Irish Times reports.
He quoted from a letter Dermody sent to him before she took the US Oath of Allegiance.
“The papers we receive…will not change our different accents [OR]skin tones,” she wrote. “But for that day, at least, we’ll feel like we have arrived.”
During his weekly White House address on Saturday, the president said of Dermody: “Well, to Ann and immigrants like her who have come to our shores seeking a better life - yes, you have arrived.
“And by sharing our stories, and staying true to our heritage as a nation of immigrants, we can keep that dream alive for generations to come.”
Last year Pres Obama called for legislation to be passed to overhaul the country’s “broken” immigration system.
In his speech on Saturday, the president referred to the number of illegal Irish immigrants in Chicago “whose papers are not in order.” There are tens of thousands of undocumented Irish people living in the United States.
The president said the White House was seeking to gather stories of how “you or your family made it to America - whether you’re an immigrant yourself or your great-great-grandparents were.”
“Of course, we can’t just celebrate this heritage, we have to defend it - by fixing our broken immigration system,” he said.
“Nearly two years ago, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to do that. They passed a commonsense bill to secure our border, get rid of backlogs, and give undocumented immigrants who are already living here a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, paid their taxes, and went to the back of the line. But for nearly two years, Republican leaders in the House have refused to even allow a vote on it.”
He said he was going to “keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system more just and more fair.”