The Irish Prime Minister Reminded America That St. Patrick Was An Immigrant, Too

"We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America."

President Trump has marched in many a St. Patrick's Day parade in his hometown of New York City, but this year, he stayed in Washington, D.C., instead welcoming the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon on Thursday. While at the luncheon, Kenny invoked St. Patrick himself in a speech that seemed to cautiously chide harsh immigration policies. 

Reminding the audience that St. Patrick, too, was an immigrant, Kenny said:

Though he is of course the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also the symbol of — indeed, the patron of, immigrants.  

Kenny also spoke of the deep connection that the Irish have in America, and their contributions to its economic, social, political, and cultural life over the centuries. He also used their shared history to remind America of its immigrant roots.

"Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed, and four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore," Kenny said. "We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came, and we became, Americans."



While Kenny made no specific mention of the administration's second travel ban — struck down by a Hawaii court, then a Maryland court not one day before — it seems clear that his speech was a rebuke (albeit a gentle one) of efforts to limit immigration.

And Kenny isn't the only world leader who has been using their platform and access to Trump to encourage moderation. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has issued a sterner reminder to the president of their shared values. And, while he has not overtly opined on Trump's immigration policies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has opened Canada's doors to refugees and immigrants turned away by its southern neighbor.

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