President Obama on Thursday night accused Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the presidential race of fostering bigotry toward illegal immigrants, promoting fear across the country and stoking intolerance toward minorities.
Speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual gala in Washington, the president touted his economic record and vowed to continue pushing for a comprehensive immigration reform bill, despite virtually no chance that such legislation would clear Congress anytime soon.
Mr. Obama directed his most impassioned remarks at Republicans who previously supported bipartisan immigration reform measures but now oppose them.
“Some of the very same Republican politicians who championed reform in the past, some of whom sponsored these efforts, suddenly want nothing to do with them,” he said without naming anyone in particular. “That’s not leadership — turning against what’s right the moment the politics of your base gets tough. Leadership is not fanning the flames of intolerance and then acting all surprised when a fire breaks out, saying clearly inflammatory things and then saying, ‘Well, that’s not what I meant,’ until you do it again, and again and again. So we’ve got to decide whether or not we, as Americans, are willing to stand up against this kind of bigotry.”
Mr. Obama also accused Republicans of opposing virtually every piece of his agenda solely because he is the one who proposed it.
“You can’t just be against everything,” he said. “You’ve got to be for something. You can’t just feed on fear. You should be feeding hope. You should be for fixing our immigration system.”