Joe Biden, What’s Grandma Got to Do with It?

613px-Official_portrait_of_Vice_President_Joe_Biden[1]Vice President Joe Biden and White House Domestic Policy advisor Cecilia Muñoz sat down Wednesday for what was billed as a dialogue with the American people about immigration reform. The discussion was streamed live on the White House’s website and on Bing (the search engine site owned by Microsoft, which is investing some big bucks in the lobbying effort to pass amnesty and open immigration legislation).

It was not exactly “Must see TV.” To the surprise of no one (expect those who actually believe the deposed Nigerian oil minister is really going to turn over $6 million to them) the whole event was carefully staged. The questions were vetted and teed-up for canned answers by Biden and Muñoz – most of which concluded with a demand that Speaker John Boehner allow the House to vote on the bill approved by the Senate (even though the Senate has never sent the bill to the House).

The vice president has a record of saying stuff that leaves people scratching their heads, even when his remarks have been carefully scripted. And, true to form, Wednesday’s event did not disappoint. Responding to a question selected to make it look like the White House was engaging with critics, Biden declared, “My great-great grandparents came escaping the famine and they didn’t all come here legally.”

We did not check the accuracy of that assertion, but we’ll take the vice president’s word for it. Discussing one’s ancestors is a favorite tactic for apologists for illegal immigration and advocates of mass immigration – probably because it plays on emotion, nostalgia, and a bit of guilt, or because they really don’t have any better arguments to support their case.

But when you really think about it, it also one of the lamest reasons for implementing the policies they advocate. The only rational answer to invoking one’s grandparents, or great-grandparents is, “So what?” What relevance does what took place in the mid-19th century have on public policy in the 21st century? Would Joe Biden suggest that we invest our defense dollars in a strong cavalry, because soldiers on horseback were a critical component of our military strategy 160 years ago? Would he suggest that we apply the education policies and curricula of the 1850s to the schools of today?

If the vice president, or any politician, tried to justify any other contemporary policy solely because that’s the way we did thing a century or more ago, they would be laughed at (not that that ever happens to Biden). But when it comes to immigration, a surprising number of otherwise intelligent folks seem to think that nostalgia makes for good public policy.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    Not to mention, if his grandmother or grandfather had been a bank robber, murderer, con artist or other criminal, would Mr. Biden say we shouldn’t have and enforce laws against these crimes?

  2. avatar

    This is a totally different country compared to 150 years ago. There were ample resources of land and water. Now, with our population growing by 30 million per decade, areas like the southwest are out of cheap fresh water resources. It will become hugely expensive to provide water for future immigration driven population growth. There is no gain in any way for this country to keep growing as we have been. The Rockefeller Commission on Population Growth said that in the early 70s, when immigration was a fraction of now. The late Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, said you cannot discuss environmental issues in this country without also discussing the impact of immigration.

    And if he wants to be honest, Biden would have to admit that the taxpayers were not paying for his great grandparents families to be raised, as those programs did not exist. Illegal’s US born families are breaking the back of California economically.

  3. avatar

    I want to hear more about how the bill was never sent over to the House. What’s the deal on that?

    I hate it when people like Munozo respond “That’s a great question!”.