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Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 10:41pm
CNN — While troubles over health care and immigration continue to dog the Obama administration, Vice President Joe Biden addressed a friendly crowd Thursday, delivering the keynote speech at a naturalization ceremony.
In his remarks, Biden strongly condemned House Speaker John Boehner's comments about immigration bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. On Wednesday, Boehner said the House had "no intention" of voting on the bill.
Biden said that he was "extremely disappointed that Speaker of the House of Representatives announced yesterday that he will not allow the process to work, he will not allow the House to play by fair play, the American way, and let Congress actually vote their conscience to fix a broken system," calling it a "step backward in the history of the country."
Making his case in front of 104 naturalized citizens and their families at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Biden encouraged the new citizens to help the other 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
"Don't pull up the ladder behind you when you come on board ... there are millions of people who are already acting as decent Americans that deserve a chance, that deserve a path, to earn their way ... so reach back, help as you move on, and don't be afraid."
With immigration reform talks at a standstill and the fate of undocumented immigrants hanging in the balance, it is unclear what President Obama could do if the bill dies. In 2012, the President stopped the deportation of undocumented minors under a deferred action program.
The House is in session 14 days between now and the end of the year, and the third-ranking House Republican, GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, says there simply isn't enough time for the bill to be considered.
Biden thanked the new citizens for "picking us," and got big laughs from the audience when telling a story about his Irish-Catholic mother and one of her quintessentially American beliefs.
When Biden was on his way to meeting the Queen of England for the first time, his mother told him to not bow or kiss the Queen's ring, because "Joey, nobody is better than you," and you're not better than anybody else.
In closing, Biden pledged to let undocumented immigrants "out of the shadows," saying "they all came for the promise of a better life, and they're incredibly capable of contributing, and many are already contributing."