Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny praised immigrants on March 17 while standing only a few feet from President Donald Trump during a speech at the White House to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (video below).
Kenny recalled the Irish immigrants who came to America, notes Vox:
It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He, too, of course, was an immigrant. And though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also the symbol of -- indeed, the patron of -- immigrants.
Here in America, in your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political, and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years. Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed.
And four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore, We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came -- and we became -- Americans. We lived the words of John F. Kennedy, long before he uttered them.
We asked not what America could do for us, but what we could do for America, and we still do.
While Kenny did not mention Trump's two travel bans on Muslim-majority countries, he did bring up an estimated 50,000 Irish undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., reports The New York Times.
Kenny called for those immigrants to have a path of citizenship:
We would like this to be sorted. It would remove a burden of so many that they could now stand in the light and say, "Now I’m free to contribute to America as I know I can." That’s what people want. All they want is the opportunity to be free.
Kenny also appealed to have more work visas for young Irish people, reports CNBC.
"There are millions out there who want to play their part for America -- if you like, who want to make America great," Kenny said.
For his part, Trump noted "America's commitment to Ireland and the tremendous contributions."
"I know it well," Trump added. "The Irish immigrants and their descendants have made right here in the United States and throughout the world."