State of the Union
President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson at the 2024 State of the Union address. AFP

NEW YORK CITY - President Biden addressed the nation on the third and lastState of the Union address of his first term before a joint session of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, his Cabinet and more.

Following a tumultuous and tense year for his administration, the President sought to draw stark contrasts between him and his likely 2024 presidential rival, former President Donald Trump.

From the economy to foreign policy, the President tackled a wide variety of issues, seeking to convince the electorate of his energy and optimism for the next four years, as well as address the current polarization that sharply divides Democrats and Republicans.

"This is a moment to speak the truth and bury the lies," President Biden said after referencing the Jan. 6th insurrection. "And here's the simplest truth. You can't love your country only when you win."

As the speech advanced and the President made its way through issues like abortion and gun control, the elephant in the room— immigration— began to creep its eyes in Congress. And, through screams and boos from the GOP, proved how divisive it remains.

Biden emphasized his support for the now-defunct bipartisan border security bill, saying that House Republicans struck it down not because it would be better for America, but rather because it would be politically hurtful for Trump.

The Bill would have hired 100 more immigration officers to help tackle a backload of 2 million cases, 4,300 more asylum officers, install 100 more high-tech drug detection machines and "bring order to the border," the President said.

Biden also mentioned how he would not demonize immigrants or separate families, and he would "fix our immigration system."

He used the term "illegal" immigrants following an off-script moment in which Rep. Marjory Taylor Greene mentioned Laken Riley, the University of Georgia student who was allegedly murdered by an undocumented Venezuelan immigrant. "Illegal" immigrants however, is a term that Democrats have tried to stay away from recently, potentially showing a Biden shift to a tougher rhetoric in regards to migrants.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene urges President Biden to "say [Laken Riley's] name" at the 2024 State of the Union address. AFP

Following the speech, Hispanic organizations across the country quickly issued their reactions.

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, the organization that serves and represents the interests of Hispanic state legislators across the country, applauded last night's event.

"NHCSL is pleased with tonight's State of the Union..." the organization said in a statement. "There's no denying that the Biden-Harris Administration's achievements have improved the conditions for Hispanic communities across the Nation."

They continued to mention reproductive rights, lower housing costs and the ban of assault weapons as key issues of agreement with the President.

UnidosUS, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organizations, joined the State Legislators' Caucus in standing with the President's remarks. They highlighted affordable housing, access to educational and economic opportunities and affordable health care as some of the main issues affecting Latino working families. They urged the Biden-Harris administration to keep Latinos in mind and maintain the momentum going.

When it came to immigration, the group urged more policy to be enacted.

"Like the majority of their fellow Americans, Latino voters want our nation's leaders to work together to deliver solutions on immigration. This includes a secure border and managing migration in a fair, effective, and humane way," UnidosUS said in a statement.

But despite the optimism, one key theme was present in such reactions— more needs to be done.

The LIBRE initiative, a national grassroots and advocacy organization for Latinos, emphasized the weak state of the economy, highlighting that Latinos are bearing a historically high inflation rate, making it nearly impossible to pursue the "American Dream."

"Instead of allowing the State of the Union to drive a wedge between the American people, we urge President Biden to advance areas of common ground where meaningful legislation is possible, even in an election year and in a divided government," the initiative said in a statement. "The Latino community is tired of excuses and is looking for our president and our elected officials to lead."

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