Obama’s Stirring Immigration Speech Slightly Tainted by Misquote of ‘The New Colossus’


With immigration reform attracting negligible Republican interest and seemingly going nowhere, President Obama laid out the case for action and what it would look like in a major speech at American University this morning. In doing so, Obama employed a familiar formula: identifying what the extreme left wants to do (straight-up amnesty), identifying what the extreme right wants to do (round up every illegal and kick them out), and then placing his vision for immigration reform squarely in the middle. It would be comprehensive and fair — securing the borders, creating a pathway to citizenship (involving penalties and requirements) for illegals currently in the country, and streamlining our legal immigration process. But the speech also relied heavily on sentimentality, most of all when Obama closed with the story of Emma Lazarus, and the sonnet she wrote for the Statue of Liberty, “The New Colossus.” It was a moving finish, despite Obama incorrectly reciting the famous line as “yearning to be free” instead of “yearning to breathe free.”