Regardless of what President-elect Donald Trump’s plans are for immigration, President Barack Obama says there will be “inevitable” changes to the demographics of the United States.
“If you stopped all immigration today, just by virtue of birth rates, this is going to be a browner country,” Obama told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in an interview that aired late Monday. “And if we’re not thinking right now about how we make sure that next generation is getting a good education and are instilled with a common creed and the values that make America so special and are cared for and nurtured and loved the way every American child is treated, then we’re not going to be as successful.”
Obama said it’s natural for the nation to have “some growing pains” because of the substantial changes to the world during his eight years in office:
I started my presidency inheriting a massive crisis of proportions that we haven’t seen since the 1930s. It laid bare some long-term and troubling trends about globalization, and technology, and rising inequality, and the fragility of our financial systems, and the way in which middle-class folks felt they were getting squeezed. And the fact that the ladders of opportunity seem to be farther and fewer between for people who are trying to get out of poverty. And throughout that process, we also then started seeing — because when the economy’s not doing well some other tensions get laid bare — changing attitudes about sexual orientation, and about race, and about the nature of families. And all of this has been amped up by the revolution in information, throwing through social media and the Internet. And so it’s a big dose. It’s been a lot of stuff that’s been coming at people really quickly, and it’s made folks anxious.
But Obama said the national conversation about race is “long overdue.” “All these smartphones suddenly taking pictures are not documenting a suddenly worsening relationship between the African-American community and the police,” the president said. “They are recording what has been a long-standing tension and the sense on the part of police that they’re put in a very difficult situation of trying to manage law enforcement in poor communities where guns are easily accessible, the African-American community being rightly convinced that there is a long history of racial bias in our criminal justice system.“And as painful as it is, that conversation is long overdue,” he continued. “So, my feeling is that if everybody takes a breath, and if we can structure a conversation that is less about how somebody else is trying to take advantage of me, and structure the conversation around how can we work together to solve problems that makes everybody better off, that America can emerge stronger. But that requires leadership. It requires citizenship. It requires all of us doing self-reflection at the same time as we’re fighting on behalf of the things that we care deeply about.” Obama said he plans to do that self-reflection after he leaves office.—Agencies