Clinton: U.S. 'Must Not Lock The Door' On Immigration
President Clinton at Portland State University's commencement
Calls measures aimed at immigrants 'un-American'
PORTLAND, Ore. (AllPolitics, June 13) -- President Bill
Clinton issued a strong call Saturday for Americans to
welcome new immigrants to the United States, saying "the
descendants of those who passed through the portals of Ellis
Island must not lock the door."
"Let me state unequivocally -- I believe new immigrants are
good for America," Clinton said at Portland State
University's commencement. "They are revitalizing our cities
... They are renewing our values, and they are reminding all
of us what it truly means to be an American."
More than 1 million legal immigrants enter the United States
each year, joined by an untold number of illegal immigrants.
This tide has become a hot-button issue in recent years, most
notably in California, where voters have passed initiatives
denying illegal immigrants access to public services, and
curtailing bilingual education.
Clinton denounced the bilingual education initiative and
efforts by congressional Republicans to deny food stamps to
legal immigrants as policies born out of anti-immigrant fear.
"My fellow Americans, it is more than wrong. It is
un-American," he said.
No majority race in U.S. in 50 years
Clinton noted that there is no longer a majority race in
Hawaii, and said the same will be true in California within
five years. Projections show there will be no majority race
in the United States in about 50 years, Clinton said.
And he said that on average, immigrants annually pay $1,800
more in taxes than they cost the government in health,
education or other benefits.
But Clinton also focused part of his remarks on the
responsibility immigrants have to their new country,
exhorting them to "embrace our culture, learn our language,
know our history."
"I believe that America is honor-bound to share our country
with immigrants, not shun them or shut them out," Clinton
said. "But I believe this as well: We cannot be blind to the
fact that immigration of this sweep and scope can threaten
"Around the world, we have seen what can happen when people
who live on the same land put race and ethnicity before
country and humanity," he said, referring to countries such
as Bosnia that have been pulled apart by ethnic strife.
He also lamented that too many children of immigrants,
particularly Hispanic immigrants, drop out of school and
don't learn English.
"Making sure our children learn English must not be a distant
goal -- it must be our first order of business," he said.