President Barack Obama pressed for immigration reform today from El Paso, Texas, but opened by praising Miami Dade College -- "one of the most diverse schools in the nation."
Obama, who recently delivered the school's commencement address, promised to push for the Dream Act to keep the children of illegal immigrants in school, saying the Miami appearance, "broke my heart, knowing that a number of those promising, bright students - young people who worked so hard and who speak to what's best about America - are at risk of facing the agony of deportation.
"These are kids who grew up in this country, love this country, and know no other place as home. The idea that we would punish them is cruel and it makes no sense. We are a better nation than that.
"So we're going to keep up the fight for the Dream Act. We're going to keep up the fight for reform. And that's where you come in. I will do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues."
Obama noted that Miami Dade's graduates "were proud that they could claim heritage from 181 countries around the world.
"Many of the students were immigrants themselves," he said, "Coming to America with little more than the dreams of their parents and the clothes on their backs. A handful had discovered only in adolescence or adulthood that they were undocumented. But they worked hard and gave it their all, and they earned those diplomas.
"At the ceremony, 181 flags - one for every nation represented - was marched across the stage. Each was applauded by the graduates and relatives with ties to those countries. But then, the last flag - the American flag - came into view. And the room erupted. Every person in the auditorium cheered. Yes, their parents or grandparents - or the graduates themselves - had come from every corner of the globe. But it was here that they had found opportunity, and had a chance to contribute to the nation that is their home.
"It was a reminder of a simple idea, as old as America itself. E pluribus, unum. Out of many, one. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants - a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America's precepts. That's why millions of people, ancestors to most of us, braved hardship and great risk to come here - so they could be free to work and worship and live their lives in peace."