President Barack Obama says the history of the U.S. Italian-American community offers lessons on how to regard the struggles of today's immigrants.
Obama praised the contribution of Italian Americans in the United States.
But he reminded the gathering Saturday of more than 2,000 Italian Americans that Italians weren't always welcome in the U.S.
The president said those who now feel comfortable in their American identity should remember that when thinking about today's immigrants.
Obama was speaking at the National Italian American Foundation Gala, an annual event that attracts some of the nation's top political and entertainment luminaries of Italian descent.
He joked he wasn't lucky enough to have Italian ancestry. "So all I've got to offer is a last name that ends in a vowel," he said.