President Joe Biden again referenced his Irish roots during his first solo press conference of his presidential term on March 25.
President Biden, towards the end of the roughly hour-long press briefing, was asked, "How do you realistically and physically keep these families from coming to the US when things will not get better in their country right away?”
He responded: “I can’t guarantee that, but I know, that old thing, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step.”
He continued: “It’s not like someone is sitting somewhere in Mexico and goes, ‘I’ve got a great idea! Let’s sell everything we have, give it to a coyote, have them take our kids across the border into a desert where they don’t speak the language; won’t that be fun? Let’s go!’
“That’s not how it happens. People don’t want to leave.
"When my great-grandfather got into a coffin ship in the Irish sea, expectation was - was he was going to live long enough on that ship to get to the United States of America?
“But they left because of what the Brits had been doing. They were in real trouble, they didn't want to leave, but they had no choice.
"I can’t guarantee we’re going to solve everything, but I can guarantee we can make everything better. We can make it better. We can change the lives of so many people."
You can watch the entire press briefing here, with President Biden referencing his Irish ancestors from 59:00:
According to genealogist Megan Smolneyak, James Finnegan, Biden's great-grandfather, arrived in the US from Ireland in May 1850 with his mother and siblings, nearly a year after his father Owen Finnegan left Co Louth, fleeing the last of the Famine.
A large portion of Biden's first solo press briefing was dedicated to immigration, in particular, unaccompanied minors at the US-Mexico border.
Biden said at one point: "The idea that I’m going to say — which I would never do — 'if an unaccompanied child ends up at the border, we’re just going to let him starve to death and stay on the other side' — no previous administration did that either, except Trump. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to do it."
Elsewhere in the briefing, Biden discussed international relations, gun control, as well as the ongoing health crisis. He opened his remarks by saying: "On December 8th, I indicated that I hoped to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in my first 100 days. We met that goal last week by day 58 — 42 days ahead of schedule.
"Now, today, I’m setting a second goal, and that is: We will, by my 100th day in office, have administered 200 million shots in people’s arms. That’s right: 200 million shots in 100 days."
Regarding potential re-election plans, Biden said: "Yes, my plan is to run for re-election, that is my expectation."