Joe Kennedy Spoke Spanish During His Speech. His Message Was Among The Night's Most Powerful.

The Massachusetts representative made headlines for his bilingual response to the State of the Union.

Rep. Joe Kennedy used his moment in the spotlight to flex a skill that is increasingly necessary in public life: fluency in Spanish.

The Massachusetts congressman delivered part of his State of the Union response speech to immigrants and Dreamers in Spanish, promising to fight for them. It was a stark — and intentional — contrast to President Donald Trump, who spoke about immigrant crime and said "Americans are Dreamers too" during his State of the Union address. 


"To all the Dreamers out there watching tonight, let me be absolutely clear," he said. "Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia. Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos aljar."

The line translates to, "You are part of our story. We will fight for you and we will not walk away."

While some Democrats and Spanish-speaking Americans cheered the moment, others were less impressed. Several pundits on Twitter pointed out that many DACA recipients don't speak Spanish, and that their lack of familiarity with the language is one of the reasons people are fighting so hard to keep them here. Others noted that if the Democratic party wanted to respond to the immigration debate, it may have been wiser to choose a Hispanic lawmaker to give the official response.

Regardless, Kennedy's Spanish language message received one of the largest cheers of the night, no doubt owing to its timeliness and its well-intentioned inclusivity. Just last week, protections for DACA recipients were once again delayed when Democrats and Republicans in Congress couldn't agree on a spending bill that including protections for the so-called Dreamers. Rep. Kennedy III's speech was yet another call for Congress to act.

The speech also immediately ignited speculation that the great nephew of former president John F. Kennedy was planning a run for President in 2020. 


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