President Barack Obama slammed the Republican presidential candidates for their “anti-immigrant” rhetoric while he was on a visit to Iowa to promote his education agenda.
In a town hall meeting at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 14, Obama spoke about the “anti-immigrant sentiment” that he believes is prominent within Republican politics and among GOP presidential candidates, CNN reports.
“This whole anti-immigrant sentiment that's out there in our politics right now is contrary to who we are,” he said. “Because unless you are a Native American, your family came from some place else."
Immigration has come to the forefront of the presidential race, thanks in part to controversial comments made by GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
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“Don't pretend that somehow, 100 years ago, the immigration process was all smooth and strict,” Obama said, adding that at that time the process “wasn't some orderly process where all the rules applied and 'I came the right way.' That's not how it worked."
“Suddenly we are treating new immigrants as if they're the problem, when your grandparents were treated like the problem or your great-grandparents were treated like the problem,” he said.
“No, that's not who we are," he added. "We could have a legitimate debate about how to set up an immigration system that is fair, orderly and lawful. (B)ut when I hear folks talking that somehow these kids are different from my kids or less worthy in the eyes of God … I think that's un-American. I do not believe that. I think it is wrong."
During the meeting, Obama was also asked about who he believed had the best plan for affordable education among the current presidential candidates. He declined to name names.
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“I can't tell you who to vote for, at least just not right now,” he said. “Later I will."