Many Americans regarded the former U.S. President, Barack Obama, as a wholesome leader. However, a video has recently surfaced on X, formerly Twitter, showing the former president giving a controversial take on illegal immigrants.

The clip showed the president saying, “We can’t have half a million people pouring over the border…” which many consider offensive. However, further research showed that the clip lacked some crucial context.

It Begins With Obama’s 2009 Speech

The clip shared on X featured the former president giving a speech at a town hall in 2009. The speech was about giving a “comprehensive” approach to the immigration problem growing at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Source: Wikimedia/Executive Office of the President of the United States

The speech centered around reinforcing the border to be more effective while being more human with the immigrants already in the U.S. However, several years later, this clip resurfaced on X.

‘We Can’t Have Half A Million People Pouring Over The Border’

The Town Hall speech Obama gave recently went viral on March 10, 2024. It featured a part where Obama said, “We can’t have half a million people pouring over the border.” The revelation shocked social media, and they ran with it.

Source: Wikimedia/brookage

Several political enthusiasts, including Elon Musk, posted the clip on social media. The post’s caption featured a quote from the former president. One user even added, “This wasn’t 30 years ago. This was Obama in 2009.”

‘Years Later, These Positions Will Be Seen As Racist…By Democrats’

Netizens were quick to point out that just “7 years later, these same positions were considered racist and xenophobic by Democrats.” This referenced how little tolerance people had when Donald Trump suggested the same thing.

Source: X/MediasetS1

The comments under that post show its attempt at pointing out the bias of “Trump haters: Essentially, Donald Trump already talked about reinforcing the border with more troops, barbed wires, and a wall to keep the illegal immigrants out.

Missing Context

Once the short clip started to go viral, researchers took it upon themselves to verify the controversial statement from Obama. The result showed that he did say those words in the town hall speech.

Source: Wikimedia/Pete Souza

However, the clip missed some important parts, as Obama added that new migrants must first learn English and then strive to earn citizenship. His speech was about dealing with asylum-seekers humanely, not the reverse.

What Barack Obama Actually Said

According to the full clip, Obama said: “This is not going to be a free ride. It’s not going to be some instant amnesty. What’s going to happen is you will pay a significant fine. You are going to learn English. It’s not something that is guaranteed or automatic. You’ve got to earn it.”

Source: Wikimedia/Steve Jurvetson

He adds: “I think the American people appreciate and believe in immigration. But they can only have a situation where you have half a million people pouring over the border with a kind of mechanism to control it. So we’ve got to deal with that at the same time as we deal humanely with folks who are putting down roots here…”

Obama’s Speech Explained

As seen from the full video of his speech, Obama never addressed the immigrants insultingly. Instead, the speech summarized his intent for the asylum-seekers, giving them a chance to earn citizenship.

Source: X/297_ArubaLover

The controversial part that enraged social media was merely Obama speaking on behalf of the average American. These people may welcome new individuals into their state, but there has to be a system.

How This Speech Differs From Trump’s

One major reason this clip went viral online is that people thought it pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump haters. The clip was far different from how Trump delivered this proposal to fix the border crisis.

Source: YouTube/TDC

Trump’s campaign in 2015 blatantly called Mexican immigrants rapists that bring crime and drugs into the US. While he aimed to address serious concerns, his derogatory and insensitive attitude made people respond harshly.

How Did They Find A 15-Year-Old Recording

Some people were shocked at how quickly the internet unearthed decades-old and possibly even deleted videos. Surprisingly, the answer isn’t complicated as it was stored in the Obama White House archives online.

Source: Xr/@nxt888

It’s quite common for U.S. presidents to have online libraries hosting everything about them. These include documents, photos, speeches, artifacts, and more. They’re a part of America’s history, and the country is keen on protecting its past.

So, Did Obama’s Policy Work?

Now that it’s been established that Obama wasn’t insulting, the next question is, “Did his policies work?” Most critics say no as supporters and opponents met his decision with harsh backlash.

Source: Wikimedia/Fibonacci Blue from Minnesota

The Obama Administration deported over two million people, which was almost equal to his predecessors combined. According to different sources, the number of immigrants deported from the U.S. increased yearly, peaking at 409,849.

Deferred Action For Parents Of Americans And Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)

Obama established some more immigration policies after his town hall speech in 2009. He signed an executive order in 2012 to allow illegal immigrants with children to apply for renewable two-year periods of deferred action from deportation.

Source: Wikimedia/Pax Ahimsa Gethen

This policy allows undocumented individuals to remain in the United States and earn money. However, many critics point out that the program failed to provide citizenship for those enrolled.

It Wasn’t All That Bad

Several media outlets claim immigration is one of Obama’s most glaring failures since he deported more people than other presidents combined, but his administration did achieve some noteworthy wins.

Source: Wikimedia/Daniel Case

Reports show that the Obama Administration made policies that helped protect 730,000 asylum-seekers. These people also brought children to the U.S., making the achievement more impactful.

‘It Doesn’t Matter’

While Obama’s policies did change some lives, critics say it doesn’t matter. This dismissal isn’t born from hate but from an uncomfortable comparison.

Source: Wikimedia/The White House

The little number the president saved pales compared to the millions he sent back home. 2.4 million to 730,000 is a massive gap, and critics say it’s nothing worth celebrating.

Nevertheless, Obama Is Innocent

Debates about the effectiveness of presidents are as old as time, but the real issue is whether the former president is guilty of being racist. Based on the additional context, Obama is innocent.

Source: Wikimedia/Center for American Progress Action Fund

His speech meant well for the immigrants, stating a humane and compassionate way to handle their situation without sending them back home. That said, the internet can allow the former president to retire peacefully.