President Barack Obama, left, standing with Vice President Joe Biden, right, listen as Diana Calderon, a student who has benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, speaks at a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, for Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Obama celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, announces education commitments for Latino students
By STACY A. ANDERSON, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Celebrating Hispanics’ contribution to the nation, President Barack Obama said Thursday that America is made great “not by building walls, but by tearing down barriers to opportunity.”
Obama spoke as the White House observed Hispanic Heritage Month. His remarks contrasted with concerns about immigration among some Republican presidential contenders. Front-runner Donald Trump has called for building a wall along the border of Mexico.
Obama said the country is enriched “not by trying to divide us, but by trying to build community.” If people were told “to go back where they came from,” America would be “a really empty country,” he said.
The White House reception also marked the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden as he welcomed the audience to “la Casa Blanca.”
The White House initiative, which Obama called “a powerful vehicle for progress,” established a commission of educators, philanthropists, labor and nonprofit organizations to advise the president on ways to assist Latino children and the Hispanic community.
Obama announced $335 million in commitments from various groups to expand educational opportunities for Latino students. Among the donors, the Boys and Girls Club of America is providing $20 million focused on engaging families and helping students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee, is committing $12.4 million in financial and academic assistance for undocumented Hispanic students ineligible for federal and state aid.
The National Partnership for Early Childhood Literacy is pledging up to $20 million to increase the number of Hispanic children who become proficient in reading by third grade.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.