Friday, May 13, 2011
On Tuesday, May 10, 2011, yards away from the Mexican border, President Barack Obama delivered a speech concerning immigration reform in the United States to a crowd over a thousand at Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, TX. While the occasion was momentous, the weather was typical for El Paso. El Paso, the ‘Sun City’, is home to an internationally diverse population making this area the ideal location to discuss immigration and border issues.
Chamizal National Memorial (CHAM), which commemorates a peace treaty that settled a century-long boundary dispute between the United States and Mexico, was the perfect venue for the President’s speech on immigration reform. CHAM serves as a vibrant cultural center that promotes diplomacy and peace between nations and people from different cultural backgrounds. This part of the park’s mission underscored President Obama’s message of ethnic diversity being an asset, not a liability, to the economic development of the United States.
Speaking to a crowd of several local government officials, prominent business owners, college students, NPS staff, and other invited guests, The President cited that despite the problems of the bordering city of Juarez, Mexico, El Paso continues to be the one of the safest American cities for its size and population. He encouraged supporters to become proactive in discussions promoting the DREAM Act: The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, a proposed federal legislation introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives.
President Obama took time to shake hands with enthusiastic audience members during the Memorial’s historic first Presidential visit. The last time a U.S. President visited the Chamizal community was over 48 years ago. President John F. Kennedy initiated the Chamizal Treaty. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the treaty that ended the 100 year border dispute.
In 1974, Chamizal National Memorial officially opened its doors and welcomed visitors from around the world.