MIAMI (CBSMiami) —Vice President Joe Biden drew cheers from many of the 2,000 graduating students from Miami-Dade College and their parents when he called for immigration reform and said that could increase the Gross Domestic Product for the U.S. economy by
5.4% over the next 20 years.
“Immigration reform will increase the Gross Domestic Product by 5.4%,” said Biden. “That’s 1.4 trillion dollars over the next 20 years.
That’s what we need to do is take these 11 million people out of the shadows.”
That number was a reference to the estimated number of people living illegally in the U.S.
Biden made the remarks during a 17-minute speech and he spoke about immigration reform a few minutes after someone in the audience yelled out,“Stop the Deportations.”
Biden heard what that person shouted and immediately responded that he was going to deal with that issue and urged the person to let him
finish his speech. That also drew more laughter.
Biden acknowledged that he was addressing many immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants.
A procession of international flags before the ceremony drew cheers from the crowd.
Biden was the Commencement speaker for the graduation ceremonies for the Inter-American and Homestead campuses of Miami-Dade College. He also received an Honorary Degree along with Angel Cabrera, the President of George Mason University.
Biden extolled immigration as crucial to American innovation. He said a majority of American favor immigration reform.
The administration is pushing for comprehensive change and legislation to go to Congress for a vote before the August recess.
The 71-year-old Biden, who has three children and five grandchildren, urged graduates to be optimistic and excited about their future.
“The promise in America is that anything is possible,” he said. “Those graduating today have the gumption to remain curious” and he said that was a “large part of getting the degree.”
“We’re encouraged to challenge our basic assumptions,” he said. “You can not make change without challenging these assumptions.”
Biden told the students that they “speak the same language” and he said that is a language of “courage and success.”
Biden also told graduates to, “please consider pursuing your dreams to stay young.”
Biden said he “loved the enthusiasm” of the graduates and saluted all students who were attending classes while working at jobs as well as all the students who were parents and who were veterans of military service.
Biden said, “All veterans please stand up. We salute you.” The veterans rose and received a standing ovation.
Biden’s son Beau had served in Iraq. He is currently Delaware’s Attorney General. Biden’s other son Hunter is an attorney and his daughter Ashley is a social worker, according to Biden’s biography.
Many graduating seniors told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they were flattered that Biden came to their campus for graduation.
“It definitely pushes up the college to another stage,” said Jesus Bohorquez, who was on the stage for the ceremony and introduced Biden to the audience.
Merrary Hernandez, the student body president of the Inter-American campus, told D’Oench, “I would never have imagined when I came to this country as a 9-year-old child from Honduras that the vice president would be coming to our school.”
Seth Stultz, the Student body president of the Homestead campus, said “I’m excited for the students. This is making a mark in history.”
Biden also stopped at the Island restaurant in West Kendall where he spoke with local Caribbean-American business leaders about immigration issues.
Biden also made a third stop at the new campaign headquarters of Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia in Kendall.