Obama responds to heckler on immigration


McClatchy Washington Bureau

It's not uncommon for President Barack Obama to be heckled. But Monday's episode was different.

A young man seated behind Obama at an event in San Francisco would not stop yelling as the president tried to give a speech on the need for an immigration overhaul.

He urged Obama to stop deportations for the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

“You have the power to stop deportations for all,” he said.

“Actually,” Obama replied, “I don’t. And that’s why we’re here.”

Obama, who is on the west coast for a series of fundraisers and speeches, encouraged Congress -- particularly the Republican-led House of Representatives -- to pass a rewrite of the nation's immigration law.

“The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws," he told the heckler. "And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve — but it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done.”

Obama spoke in San Francisco’s Chinatown to stress immigration changes will help the economy, stressing that 35 percent of business owners in San Francisco are immigrants.

In this speech, Obama focused on Asian Americans.

"Today, more than one in four residents born outside the United States came here from Asian countries -- many through our family immigration system," he said. "But too often when we talk about immigration, the debate focuses on our southern border. The fact is we’re blessed with immigrants from all over the world who’ve put down roots in every corner of this country."

Obama urged the House to take up the Senate’s immigration bill, saying the chamber's so-called piecemeal approach is acceptable if that’s what it would take to pass a package of reforms.

“Just because something is smart, fair, good for the economy, and supported by business, labor, law enforcement and faith leaders, Democratic and Republican governors, including the governor of this state — just because all that is in place doesn’t mean we’ll actually get it done because this is Washington, after all, that we’re talking about, and everything’s looked at through a political prism," he said.

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