President Barack Obama commented on the tensions in Ferguson before pushing for immigration reform
He said if Republican lawmakers don't like his executive action that would slow deportations, they should "pass a bill"
Obama's speech was interrupted by hecklers derided the President as "deporter-in-chief"
President Barack Obama traveled to his adopted hometown of Chicago on Tuesday to continue his week-long campaign of garnering support for his executive action on immigration reform, but he led his speech by remarking on the deadly riots in Ferguson.
“The frustrations that we’ve seen are not just about a particular incident. They have deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not being enforced uniformly or fairly,” the President said.
Moving on to the immigration issue, Obama touched on the reasons he signed the executive order last week that would allow millions of immigrants to stay in the country. He also made the argument that if Congress wants to repeal his orders, they should just, “pass a bill.”
He referred to the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate, but has little hope of being brought up in the Republican-controlled House, saying, “A year and a half ago, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to fix this system.”
“We would have doubled the number of border patrol agents,” Obama said. “We would have made our legal immigration system smarter and fairer. It would have given millions of people the right to earn their citizenship.”
But, he added, “For a year and a half, Republican leaders in the House simply would not allow a vote.”
The President reiterated that this executive action is just the beginning of the change he would like to see and that he believes his actions are legal, adding that both Presidents Reagan and Bush issued executive orders on the immigration issue.
Obama was briefly interrupted by three immigration activists who heckled him, calling him the “deporter-in-chief.”
“It doesn’t make sense to yell at me right now,” he said. “What you’re not paying attention to is, I just took an action to change the law.”
His address was held at the Copernicus Community Center, which is in a predominantly Polish-American community on the north side of the city. Before the President spoke, reporters overheard many of the attendees conversing and ordering refreshments in Polish.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn were also in the audience.