Vice President Joe Biden extoled immigration as crucial to American innovation Saturday at a college graduation ceremony in South Florida.

The Miami Dade College graduates from two campuses and their families, 2,000 strong, cheered as a procession of 39 flags from their home countries, entered the gym and opened the program. Biden acknowledged that he was addressing many immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants, many from South America and the Caribbean.

Biden said a “constant, substantial stream of immigrants” is important to the American economy, urging citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

“That’s why we have to act to bring 11 million people out of the shadows and put them on a path to citizenship,” Biden said. “These people are already Americans.”

When someone in the crowd shouted “Stop deportations!” he replied, “We’ll do that, too, kid, but let me finish my speech.”

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