TIME Immigration

Biden Tells Boehner To ‘Stand Up’ To Base On Immigration Reform

The Vice President used a Cinco de Mayo speech to push House Speaker John Boehner to push back against parts of the Republican base who are holding up comprehensive immigration reform

Vice President Joe Biden demanded Monday that House Speaker John Boehner “stand up” to those in his party who oppose immigration reform.

Speaking at a breakfast celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Biden highlighted the progress made by Hispanic Americans and made the economic and moral case for immigration reform, saying it would be a “shot in the arm” when the country needs one.

“It’s time for John—he’s a good man, John Boehner—to stand up and other Republicans to stand up,” Biden said. “Not for us to stand up. We’ve already stood up. We’ve been right there. We stood up. It’s time for him to stand up, stand up at not let the minority—I think it’s a minority—of the Republican Party in the House keep us from moving in a way that will change the circumstances for millions and millions of lives.”

Biden also stood by his assertion earlier this year that the more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States are already Americans. Republicans pounced on the comments at the time.

“And I know I was criticized for saying a couple of months ago in Florida that these 11 million folks in the shadows are already Americans and I got pretty roundly criticized for that,” he said. “But they are Americans. They may not be citizens, but they are Americans. In the definition of Teddy Roosevelt, he said Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed or line of descent, it’s a question of principles, idealism, and character. And I would argue that those 11 million folks who have been here breaking their neck, working hard, they are Americans.”

As he made a roll call of the notables in the room, he pointed to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who made a reference to Biden’s appearance in an HBO-produced video at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, to which the Vice President replied, “Anyway, I just wish I could have kept that Corvette.”

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