Yes, the following were actual remarks Vice President Mike Pence gave Thursday to the Latino Coalition. They happened at the end of his speech (full speech here). We are still scratching our heads from this one, but at the same time, is this a test run by the Trump administration to frame their immigration debate? It fails miserably, but you kind of have to see it to believe it.
…that America’s greatness is simply about policy. Ultimately a strength of this country comes from our people. And as I close, let me say, I count one of the greatest blessings of my life is just simply to be an American. All of us with very few exceptions are descended from those: those who came here from this country, came here looking for a brighter future. Some were brought here involuntarily. Our Native American brothers and sisters were here when we arrived. But America, from our nation’s founding, emerged as a land of opportunity in a merit-based society. And the truth of the matter is that it’s precisely that vision of America, that merit-based society, that all of you personify, and it’s been a truth literally. A truth since our nation’s birth and as we strived every day to order a more perfect union. We continue to live out that aspiration and that vision.
In his joint address to the Congress just last week, the President made a couple of more promises. He promised to serve, protect and defend the citizens of the United States. To strengthen our nation’s security. And, in his words to respect, to restore respect rather, for the laws of this country. Now that includes the important work that’s before us today: securing our borders, upholding our laws, and make no mistake about it, as we do that, the President has placed a priority. As we move through these issues, the top priority in his words is removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens, and that will be this administration’s focus for every community.
The President and I believe that a system based on the rule of law will benefit every American, including our Hispanic Americans. Every community from coast to coast will benefit from upholding our laws and expanding our economy. As President Trump said to Congress, and I quote, “real and positive immigration reform is possible.” And I can assure everyone here that as that debate goes forward, we will, as the President promised, show great heart every step of the way.
Now for my part, I take all of this very personally. You see I, as I said last time I was here, at this coalition meeting. I’m actually the grandson of an immigrant. So is the President. My story in my family was that nearly a century ago my great-grandmother walked my grandfather out of that two-room house they lived in, in northwestern Ireland. Walked up the hill across from their home from where I’ve stood and looked out at the Ox Mountains and looked to the west, and she told him she was going to get him a one-way ticket to America. Because she said, “there’s a future there for you.” Now Richard Michael Cawley actually stepped ashore on Ellis Island as a young man on April 11, 1923 and that’s how Michael Richard Pence grew up to be Vice President of the United States of America.
That young man made his way to Chicago. He drove a bus for forty years. He was the proudest man I ever knew. And the best man I ever knew. On Inauguration Day, I’ll be honest with you: I had him on my heart and in my mind. And I sat on that stage, as I raised my right hand, I actually couldn’t imagine what that Irishman was thinking, looking down from glory. Except two thoughts: I’m sure he was very surprised. Because he knew me well. But the other thing I have to think he had to conclude was that he was right. His mother was right. Was right about America. That it is the land of opportunity. It’s a place where dreams come true. It’s what each of you proves each and every single day. You work hard. You play by the rules. You look after your family. You look after your neighbors. And you keep working hard. Anybody can be anybody. In America.
And I just promise you this grandson of that immigrant and the grandson of an immigrant that I work for, are going to work with each and every one of you to keep the American Dream alive. And to renew and make it greater than it’s ever been before.