An Obama heckler who was supposedly cleared by the White House as part of the group appearing in the background (which normally includes supporters) interrupted the President mid-speech.
The unusual situation is making headlines on cable TV news shows and the internet. Footage shows a young man boldly speaking about his personal situation during Obama’s speech.
The man, who is in the country illegally, yelled out:
“Mr. Obama, my family has been separated for 19 months now!.” Other members of the group were heard trying to silence the heckler.
At first, Obama didn’t interrupt his speech to listen to the heckler, but since he kept yelling his grievances, the president was forced to actually turn around to listen to the man as he continued.
“You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country,” he said.
The President turned to address him saying, “Actually, I don’t and that’s why we’re here.”
As Secret Service agents started to come on stage to remove the heckler, Obama stopped them, saying:
“I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families,” he told the shocked audience. “The United States is a nation of laws, and it is not simply a matter of us just saying we’re going to violate the law.”
President Obama insisted he supports immigration reform split into different pieces of legislation, as proposed by Republican legislators.
The Obama heckler, who appeared to be of Asian descent, represents what has become the largest ethnicity coming to the US illegally, where in the past Latin American amounted to the main group of immigrants.
Shawn Steel, a Republican from California has encouraged his party to reach out to Asian-American voters and said many Asians were trapped in a bureaucratic backlogs of an inefficient service, even though “they followed the rules, they paid the fees, they had the interviews.”
“Largely because of the inefficient immigration policy, they are being denied an expedited hearing,” according to Steel.
He adds that an “aggressive amnesty” would give “special favoritism to those that did not wait in line,” which would be unfair to many Asians.
The Obama heckler also got a direct response from the President about his complaints:
“Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States, and I come to this community, is that, in fact, if I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so,” Obama said speaking to the man. “But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.”
What do you think of the Obama heckler? Disrespectful or justified?