Vice President Joe Biden made a push for immigration reform -- and joked about his star turn at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner -- at a Cinco de Mayo event on Monday, calling on House Republicans to take up a Senate-backed immigration overhaul and defending his remarks that 11 million undocumented immigrants are “already American citizens.”
“The message is simple, we don't have to redouble our efforts. We have to redouble our demand” for the House to take up the bill,” Biden told a crowd of about 100 Hispanic leaders, including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The administration has been under fire for its aggressive deportation of immigrants, but Biden said it’s House Speaker John Boehner who needs to make the next move.
“And 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 and 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 expressed one note of regret: “I just wish I could have kept that Corvette,” he said, a reference to the lemon yellow Corvette in which he escorted VEEP star Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a video that played at the WHCA dinner Saturday night.
"That new Stingray! Yo, oh, oh, oh," Biden exclaimed. "Zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds! Not that I like speed."
Biden was wearing a navy suit, white shirt, and blue tie at the Cinco de Mayo reception, the pool report notes, adding, “it was not possible to verify that the ‘45’ tattoo (he obtained in the video) was temporary.”
(Obama is the 44th president of the U.S., Biden, presumably, harbors hopes of being the 45th.)
Biden called passing immigration reform a “shot in the arm” for the country, saying it would help the economy.
“To continue the dreams of all the American people, we have got to get 11 million people out of the shadows,” he said. “It’s not just to benefit those 11 million people, it’s badly needed for the country. The country needs a shot in the arm and this would give it a considerable shot in the arm.”
He defended -- even as he clarified -- remarks he’d made in March that ignited controversy, noting he was criticized for saying in an address to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that the 11 million undocumented are “already American citizens.
“They are Americans,” he said. “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.”