For Vice-President Joe Biden, sometimes a piece of paper is just a piece of paper, even when it comes to immigration status.
Biden said on Thursday that undocumented immigrants are already Americans.
The vice president told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that most immigrants are working hard and just want to be able to step out of societal shadows and join the mainstream.
"You know, 11 million people living in the shadows I believe are already American citizens," he said. "Teddy Roosevelt said it better. Americanism, he said, is not a question of birthplace or creed. Or a line of descent. It's a question of principles, idealism and character."
Biden wasn't done.
"These people are just waiting, just waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully," he continued. "And by that standard 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans, in my view. All they want - they just want a decent life for their kids, a chance to contribute to a free society, a chance to put down roots and help build the next great American century."
Biden, like most Democrats, is calling on GOP House Speaker John Boehner to let the House vote on an immigration reform bill. The Senate passed a bill last year which supporters said would strengthen borders and give immigrants an earned path to citizenship.
Critics of that bill call it amnesty for lawbreakers.