Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that several of his ancestors came into the United States illegally.
Speaking to questioners in a Skype chat with White House domestic policy head Cecilia Muñoz, Biden attempted to downplay the stigma associated with undocumented immigrants. When one questioner stated that her family legally immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the 1800s, Biden claimed that many Americans – including himself – are descended from immigrants who came over without legal papers.
“My great-great-grandparents came escaping the [1840s Irish] famine and they didn’t all come here legally,” Biden said according to Politico. “They didn’t all come legally. And the existence of the system isn’t all truncated like it is now. I’d check your ancestry to make sure that they did come legally if that’s a concern to you.”
Biden used the opportunity to promote a bipartisan comprehensive immigration measure that was passed in the Senate in June, but has not been called up for a vote in the House. The vice president blamed the roadblock on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has opposed the bill from the start.
“Mr. Boehner, who is a good man, the speaker of the House of Representatives, he will not call up the bill passed overwhelmingly by the Senate,” Biden said, according to the Huffington Post. "He will not bring it up because he is very worried about his very conservative base, his tea party base. He's unwilling to let the House speak. He's unwilling to let the House vote."
In response to Boehner’s refusal to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, President Barack Obama stated last month that he would grudgingly accept passing several piecemeal bills to overhaul immigration. Biden, apparently, is still holding on to hope for a comprehensive solution.