Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Obama relates American success story of Astronaut Jose Hernandez in push for Dream Act

From President Obama's speech 05/10/2011 in El Paso, Texas

We need Washington to know that there is a movement for reform that’s gathering strength from coast to coast. That’s how we’ll get this done. That’s how we can ensure that in the years ahead we are welcoming the talents of all who can contribute to this country and that we’re living up to the basic American idea that you can make it here if you try. (Applause.)

That’s the idea that gave hope to José Hernández. Is José here? Where’s — José is right over there. (Applause.) I want you to hear — I want you to think about this story. José’s parents were migrant farm workers. And so, growing up, he was too. He was born in California, though he could have just as easily been born on the other side of the border, if it had been a different time of year, because his family moved around with the seasons. So two of his siblings were actually born in Mexico.

So they traveled a lot, and José joined his parents picking cucumbers and strawberries. And he missed part of school when they returned to Mexico each winter. José didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old. But you know what, José was good at math and he liked math. And the nice thing is that math was the same in every school, and it’s the same in Spanish as it is in English.

So José studied, and he studied hard. And one day, he’s standing in the fields, collecting sugar beets, and he heard on a transistor radio that a man named Franklin Chang-Diaz — a man with a surname like his — was going to be an astronaut for NASA. So José decided — right there in the field, he decided — well, I could be an astronaut, too.

So José kept on studying, and he graduated high school. And he kept on studying, and he earned an engineering degree. And he kept on studying, and he earned a graduate degree. And he kept on working hard, and he ended up at a national laboratory, helping to develop a new kind of digital medical imaging system.

And a few years later, he found himself more than 100 miles above the surface of the Earth, staring out of the window of the shuttle Discovery, and he was remembering the boy in the California fields with that crazy dream that in America everything is possible. (Applause.)

Think about that, El Paso. That’s the American Dream right there. (Applause.) That’s what we’re fighting for. We are fighting for every boy and every girl like José with a dream and potential that’s just waiting to be tapped. We are fighting to unlock that promise, and all that holds not just for their futures, but for America’s future. That’s why we’re going to get this done. And that’s why I’m going to need your help.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

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