April 29th, 2011
09:53 PM ET

Obama talks immigration, his own past to Miami college grads

MIAMI (CNN) - President Barack Obama traveled to downtown Miami Friday evening, where he delivered remarks to some 4,000 new graduates of Miami Dade College (MDC).

"Class of 2011, you and your generation are now responsible for our future. I'm only going to be president a little bit longer," Obama said. "You are going to be leaders for many years to come."

During the 25-minute address, the president spoke of equality, diversity, and tolerance to the students, who were mostly Hispanic and black. Some, Obama acknowledged in his speech, were undocumented.

His loudest applause lines came when he expressed his confidence that Washington would fix the "broken" immigration system, and his desire to pass the DREAM Act , which would give citizenship to those undocumented residents who either enlist in the U.S. military or seek a college degree.

"It will be difficult, and it will take time," Obama said. "I know some of you wish that I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself, but that’s not how democracy works. Democracy is hard, but it’s right."

He then shared a personal story about his own father, who came to study in the United States from Kenya. While Obama has written about his father, he doesn't often speak of him publicly.

"I didn't know him well, my father. He lived a troubled life," he told the students. "But I know that when he was around your age, he dreamed of something more than his lot in life. He dreamed of that magical place. He dreamed of coming to study in America."

Obama recounted how he traveled to Kenya just out of college to visit the home where his father lived as a boy. He met his father's stepmother, who presented the younger Obama with about 30 letters written by his father to colleges and universities all across America.

"They were written in simple, sometimes awkward, sometimes grammatically incorrect – unmistakably hopeful voice of somebody who was just desperate for a chance, desperate to live his unlikely dream," he said of the letters.

When the University of Hawaii gave him that chance, Obama's father met Stanley Ann Dunham. "They had a son," Obama noted, "in the land where all things were possible."

The president also recalled a memory from his childhood in Hawaii, where he sat atop his grandfather's shoulders to catch a glimpse of Apollo astronauts returning from a splashdown at sea after a mission to space – some 40 before he took his own girls to see the scrubbed space shuttle Endeavor launch today.

"I thought of all that we've achieved as a nation since I was their age – a little brown boy sitting on my grandfather's shoulders. I thought all I want us to achieve by the time [Sasha and Malia] have children of their own. That's my proof that the idea of America endures, that's my evidence that our brave endeavor on this earth continues. And every single day I walk into the Oval Office for all the days of my life, I will always remember that in no other nation on earth could my story be possible, could your stories be possible. That is something I celebrate."

After the address, Obama received an honorary associate's degree from the school. His first associate's degree, he noted.

Topics: Immigration • President Obama • The Buzz • The News

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soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Jay in NC

    Barry told the crowd about his 'Dream Act.' And how illegal immigrants could become citizens if they go to college. Used his fathers coming to American for an education as an analogy. Big differences Barry's father did not stay in the US. He went back home to Kenya. Again the president used a silly analogy. Remember when he bragged about the job FedEx and UPS were doing to justify why the US Post office should not be privatized?

    Sometimes I think this guy is just making it up as he goes along. Promising anyone anything just to get reelected. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" has turned into Ask and OUR country will do for you what you will not do for OUR country.

    Barry, like the illegal immigrants you have warn out your welcome. Grandma Sarah says come back home.

    April 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • MO White Woman

      You are an idiot.

      April 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
      • John

        Hey Mo White – think much?

        May 2, 2011 at 6:15 am |
    • True

      This is very true. Obama is a PR man. He can make anything sound decent to people. He has no idea what he is talking about or how to run this country. He hired useless Czars to do his job because he is clueless. He has made promise after promise to the blacks and hispanics. Obama's job is to bankrupt and ruin this country. He is being very successful, and the people whom vote for him have no idea.

      May 1, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • John

      What else can he say? His Aunt Zatuni lived in Boston for several years as an illegal, on the public dole until they fianlly found a judge to grant her the right to stay. She is the ultimate example for theose who say illegals do not get welfare and other public assistance.

      May 2, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  2. Joel Wischkaemper

    How sad. We have tried very hard to tell the guy we don't want the Federal Government throwing our tax money away, and he still supports a program that was in the multi billion dollar category for illegal aliens.

    We need a new President.

    April 29, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  3. Maxxine

    Thiss guy is a total joke- Latino see a Fraud when they see one.


    April 30, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  4. phil q

    guys let me know were the kkk meeting is

    April 30, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  5. phil q

    Guys were is the kkk.meeting at.

    April 30, 2011 at 3:34 am |
  6. StokeyBob

    What bigger evil could one imagine than a government that tricked school children saying that there wouldn't be enough room for the children they would soon have at the same time they were opening up the borders for the criminals in businesses illegal labor?

    As for the Statue of Liberty;

    The Statue of Liberty wasn't built with that plaque. It was added later.

    We can't keep killing ourselves to make room for the overpopulation of the world.

    I don't care how big your heart is!

    And I don't care how greedy the criminals in business are!

    P.S. "What does the tablet say on the statue of liberty, that the Swan Alley Statue of Liberty holds?

    It is inscribed with the dates IV Juillet 1776 et XIV Julliet 1789 [the dates of the US and French revolutions]."

    April 30, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  7. Dave Francis



    When our immigration laws are held in suspension by hesitant politicians because they don't want to hurt ethnic feelings, then nothing is going to happen? IT IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE A STALEMATE. Americans should realize if we initiate Zero tolerance at the border, at airline terminals with the immense power of the federal government, to fully funding without any exceptions. That the originally designed double strength border fence (2006 Secure Fence Act), complete with deployed US patrol and military personal, we can alter the course of having to support illegal immigrant invasion. At airline entry terminals, there must be stronger control that includes entry and exit inspections by immigration, so they can trace persons after their visa expires. Amazingly it makes sense, so it halts illegal newcomers reaching America, costing billions of dollars in support. ALL STATES THAT FAIL TO ENACT POLICING LAWS WILL ADDRESS A HUGE FINANCIAL PENALTY FROM THE BOMBARDMENT OF ECONOMIC REFUGEES, LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME AFTER FLEEING FROM LESS SYMPATHETIC STATES.

    If funding is established now for whatever is required to construct the double layer fence, including internal tools such as E-Verify, Secure Communities and 287 (G) police apprehension programs, we stand a good chance of stopping this travesty. IF WE SPEND BILLIONS NOW, IN THE LONG RUN WE WILL SAVE HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS ANNUALLY. One would think the US Border Patrol would have full access to the border region, is far from the truth. They have to ask permission from the forestry commission, National Parks and Wilderness areas public managers. This is beyond belief to ask for a permit from the environmentalists to these massive areas, yet these Eco people say nothing and do little about the endless mounds of garbage littering these regions. These areas are extremely dangerous and standing signs indicate this along the highways. Because of inaccessibility of Agents to these areas are infested by criminal drug dealers and wagon trains of illegal aliens hauling dope.

    Every legal person and citizen should have a equal opportunity to work, no matter their color as long as their passage was through the Immigration paperwork and not the back way in? So as inserted in the 1986 Immigration Control and reform Act, we will have the means to inflict grave penalties on business that think they are above our laws. More than then five foreign nationals in your employ, you go to prison, simple as that. Much of this pain and suffering, loss of jobs taken by illegal aliens could be settled easily, if entry into America without papers was a felony as many other industrial nations have imposed. Any company or other entity that supports illegal immigration, has something to gain? For businesses of any category is more profit. For corporations is more money for their stockholders. For the majority of any store, factory and office or other establishment it’s about more money, more profit. With 10 million Americans and more out of work, any amnesty would be just plain insane.

    This foreign occupation hasn't just happened; it’s taken thirty years at least. This has been caused by foolhardy evasiveness to the "Rule of law." Once we have settled this exploitation once and for all, we can then decide on a uniform, non-fraudulent Guest worker program. But farmers and the agricultural section, must be forced to pay for their workers health care and education for their children of people working the fields; not taxpayers. There should be special exceptions for the highly skilled, who should have expedited passage through the immigration preference system. Alas, we have a right not admit individuals who will have to rely on government handouts, which incorporates pregnant Mothers. This has become a myopic game of States and the federal government alike, engineering welfare programs meant for birthright Americans sick, old and retired.

    FAIR estimates there are about 363,000 children are born to illegal aliens each year. It’s a must read the report in a Pdf file "Illegal Aliens and American Medicine." (Just Google the whole text. )Anybody have any thoughts out there; have any conception of expenditures today? Foothold children to a large extent exhaust the social welfare programs countrywide. This is serious intent to legally enter America in near full term of pregnancy, so the birthright law comes into effect. The "Anchor Baby" is an unpleasant term, but it describes with morbid accuracy, defining an offspring of an illegal immigrant or other non-citizen, who under current legal interpretation becomes a United States citizen at birth; the law is ruthlessly used in apply for welfare programs.

    The female if allowed to remain, can get even more benefits, when they become pregnant again, and again and again. This insures cash payments, food stamps, free health care and federal Section 8 housing that shortly the whole extended family moves too. As our government tries to extract its way out of the 14 Trillion plus deficit, so should States that are carrying the extra burden if catering to illegal aliens. Thousands more people join the moderate conservatives in local and national TEA PARTY each day. Independents are swarming to the party, including lost Liberals and Democrats, even hard core Republicans. NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL HONEST TAXPAYERS TO CALL YOU’RE LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL POLITICIANS AND DEMAND—NOT REQUEST—THEY USE ZERO TOLERANCE IN ENFORCING OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS, ACCORDING TO THE 1986 SIMPSON/ MAZZOLI BILL? EVERY AMERICAN WHO PAYS EXORBITANT TAXES TO SUPPORT EVERY ILLEGAL FOREIGNERS, IS AT THE POINT OF NO RETURN.

    This nation is on the verge of losing its reputation, as the most powerful country in the world to Communist China. This has been forced upon us by unfair trade practices and the manipulation of currency by the Chinese. This unfair advantage has deteriorated our manufacturing base, the shutdown of thousands of companies that were making quality products, compared to the foreign countries that have imported cheap goods into this nation. The only people making huge profits are international mega corporations, which have taken US jobs offshore or across borders. The TEA PARTY will end this fallacy and tax US companies bringing cheap inferior goods. We are the greatest population of consumer buyers in the world and we have the ability to place tariffs on goods entering America, instead of this unbalanced trade policies that we have with NAFTA, CAFTA and China.

    April 30, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  8. Howard

    Once again, Obama is pandering to Latinos in order to get their votes. Obama used the story of his father, but left out a lot.
    Obama senior married Stanley Ann Dunham, a white student from Kansas, not only when he was said to have already been married to a woman in Kenya, but at a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in many parts of the U.S.

    Documents obtained from the U.S. immigration service paint a picture of a man who 'had an eye for the ladies' and, according to his file, had to be warned several times to stay away from girls at the university.

    Heather Smathers, a investigative journalist with the Arizona Independent, obtained the files through a Freedom of Information request.

    A memo from a University of Hawaii foreign student advisor said that Obama senior had 'been running around with several girls since he first arrived here and last summer she cautioned him about his playboy ways. Subject replied that he would "try" to stay away from the girls.'

    It also considered his earlier Kenya marriage as a grounds to deny him a visa extension but concluded that 'polygamy was not an excludable or deportation charge'.

    April 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • annie s

      So what?

      April 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  9. annie s

    The President delivered a speech intended to inspire – and achieved that goal with a personal touch and a hope for the future of these students. Being against the DREAM Act is being against America, in my opinion. This nation of immigrants can't afford to turn away these children, American by heart and spirit, who through education or service to country are the embodiment of the American dream.

    April 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Galactus999

      Being against the DREAM act is patriotic. Our President has failed to enforce this country's laws. His talks about breaking the law and giving criminals US citizenship. Why should criminals get amnesty and other immigrants who follow the rules have to be denied or wait years to come to the United States. The students and the parents of these students are criminals and stole their educations from the US public. They should have been deported years ago.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
      • annie s

        This President has actually enforced immigration laws more than his predecessor – more illegals deported, more border agents and more funding to the states for border security. Whatever your feelings on granting amnesty to illegals (as Reagan did) the DREAM Act is completely unrelated as it applies only to the children of illegals – those kids didn't break any laws, their parents did, and many of them have no memory of life outside the US. Punishing them by keeping deportation hanging over their heads is heartless and useless.

        May 1, 2011 at 11:58 am |
      • Jay in NC

        annie s, as you say "those kids didn't break any laws, their parents did"

        The difference is other kids do not get a free education because their parents committed a federal offence. Rob a bank send your kids to college. Liberals have a strange view of Justis.

        May 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
      • Breana daniels

        i think obama is dooing a good job, and you people who are talking about where is the kkk meeting are really sick.Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equal rights and yall should respect that. everybody is equal .

        May 2, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • SonofMarx

      Technically, any politician that votes for the DREAM act is committing a Federal Felony since it is one for a citizen to harbor, encourage, or facilitate an illegal alien's entry or stay in the US. So, if the DREAM act is voted in then all politicians should be arrested and charged with a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.

      May 1, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Howard

      There's a difference between LEGAL immigrants, and Illegal immigrants !!!

      May 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  10. Howard

    Healthcare for illegals should be paid 100% by the folks advocating for paid healthcare for illegals.

    April 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • SonofMarx

      Agreed. But not just healthcare; Education, unemployment benefits, WIC, food stamps...etc etc etc. That would nip all this pandering to criminals in the a$$ fast.

      May 1, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  11. James

    I have lost all faith and respect for this president. In 2008 he really was the only choice and I think that's sad.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  12. Edwin

    Obama is the poster boy of why we should not allow 1st and 2nd generation immigrants into our politics. Schwartzenager is the other example, now every Mexican illegals and Mexicans. They sell out our country. This is a new country, all it takes are people or their off spring from another country to come here and destroy everything our ancestors built. Obama chose to be black because at the time he came of age for benefits, the blacks got the most. They got the token jobs, pushed ahead in schools, and the deepest cuts on loans and grants for college. Now CNN, as usual, is picking who we vote for, by the same slanderous media coverage as the 2008 presidential coverage. Anyone who counts on CNN for unbiased political views are sorry followers.

    May 1, 2011 at 1:59 am |
  13. Jerome

    "During the 25-minute address, the president spoke of equality, diversity, and tolerance to the students, who were mostly Hispanic and black. Some, Obama acknowledged in his speech, were undocumented."

    Now this is inspiring. A sitting president giving encouragement to illegal aliens ( whoops, 'undocumented Democrats' ) which are probably also getting financial aid to be attending the college to begin with. I always thought upholding the laws of the country fell under a president's responsibility. Not anymore it seems. Hope and change. I am hoping for a change.

    May 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      It's enough to make you wish you were not born here. Free education for your children, heath care and a president fighting for you. With all those privileges it's a wonder why Barry was trying so hard to prove he was born in Hawaii.

      May 1, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  14. Steve

    Sure just promise them some more tax payer money like you do for everything. I am sure the REAL American tax payers will glady shell out even more because well they are being forced to by you. Sounds like another great suckup speech for votes at the cost of the American system.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  15. Gypsy Dave

    Get this socialist, un-american, anti-american foriegn S O B out of our country...NOW !!! SonofMax has the right idea.

    May 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  16. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @phil q; I see you must really want to know where the meeting is, so let me answer you. The KKK have become modernized! They've gotten more technically and computerly savvy now-a-days, you know. You're already at the meeting! They meet on the 'Whitehouse Blog'!! LOL!

    May 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Everyday we see you rant about racism. My question is why is it always white racists. Why not call out black racists like Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, Jr. , Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton, Jr. and Minister Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, Sr. (born Louis Eugene Walcott)?

      May 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Breana daniels

      i still dont understand you people and racism what did black people ever do to you,except fight for our rights, stand up to you, and become "THE FIRST BALCK PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"BASICALY WE GOIN GLOBAL AND YALL DONT LIKE IT. THE SLAVES YOU ENSLAVED ARE RISEN FROM THE DEAD AND COMIN BACK TO HAUNT YOU AND YOUR ANCESTORS SO GET READY FOR THE WHITE HOUSE TO BE BLACK.....

      May 3, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  17. Liz Carter in Georgia

    A positive for you is a negative for some! It's because they're NOT racists They are African Americans who stand up to White American racism; which has been perpetually propagated against African Americans and others, whether overtly or covertly for centuries! These people as well as our great lates Dr Martin Luther King and Bro Malcolm X (Little), are the hearts, minds and voices of the systemically disenfranchised people of America! If you expect people not to fight back, you have another thought coming!

    May 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  18. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Furthermore, this time I was only answering a question that had been asked at least a couple of times by @phil q. Do you find any of the names you just noted on this blog, ranting and raving? They have a more decent platform to express their opinions and the things that should be done to eliminate this evil, vindictive demon; which has snaked itself into our society so deep that people black and white thought it was put out to pasture. Oh, it's still with us BIG! BTW, do you call Father Pheggler a racist?

    May 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Yes, Father Pfleger of Trinity United Church of Christ, is a racist.
      First off why is he making a political speech, one that was clearly intended to influence the outcome of the election at a church service. This demonstrates a disregard for the federal laws and should make everyone question his motives. Maybe the government should look into the church's tax status.

      Back to the racist part. I read the speech he gave on May 25, 2008. Pfleger expressed that Hilary Clinton is not qualified to be president simply because of her skin color. Typical of the Left, he accused her of racism using racist terms. I do think Hillary was getting a taste of her own medicine, however I still disagree with it.

      Even Barry said that he was "deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric". To his credit Pfleger later released a statement saying, "I regret the words I chose Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Sen. Obama's life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Sen. Clinton or anyone else who saw them."

      So you see Liz, even black people can be racist. Again it is interesting that you only attack whites. I know that you have said many time that you think that black men work harder than whites, maybe one day you can bring your self to do as Father Pfleger did, and apologize for your racist rants.

      May 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
      • Breana daniels

        i agree with yu bro these racist people are hating hard on black people... and this lady claims she is is mad at obama but truthfully SHE DOSET LIKE BLACK PEOPLE...and im perttty sure her ancestors were racist,it runs deep in the blood so she's going to be a follower instead of making a difference.

        May 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  19. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, I will never apologize for telling the truth, ever. I may apologize if I find that I told a lie, but never will I for speaking the truth, OK? I'm sorry if it hits you to the core, but I wonder why. Do you think it's a truth that should have stayed 'unspoken' on this blog? Not so politically correct? BTW, I don't think Father Pfleggler is a racist. He just told the truth and was forced to apologize for it. BTW, he did not say HILLARY wasn't qualified; he said she'd probably win because she was white.

    May 2, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  20. 123abcstudent

    His father's stoy is just one of the thousands. There are other students out there who've had greater stuggles and still pursued a college education. In this speech Obama wasn't addressing all illegal immigration, he was addressing those undocumented students who have become something in life, but can't go into their profession because a simple label calls them "illegal"

    May 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  21. Liz Carter in Georgia

    You go Breana! I'm thankful for your gift of discernment to see through the smoke and fire, the TRUTH about what's really going on against thisY black PRESIDENT behind the scenes, smothered in POLITICS! I should say the rhetorical, hate-ridden beauracracy that's being waged against PRESIDENT OBAMA systemically; purposefully strategized to teardown his legacy as ONE of the greatest PRESIDENTS of THE UNITED STATES! We'll NOT let that happen...NO WAY! He asked AMERICANS to remember where we started from!

    May 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm |