MIAMI - Vice President Biden extolled immigration as crucial to American innovation Saturday at a college graduation ceremony in South Florida.

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

He said a "constant, substantial stream of immigrants" was important to the American economy, and urged 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."

Biden also applauded the Florida Legislature for passing a bill Friday to allow students living in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at the public colleges and universities. Florida is the latest of 20 states to enact such a measure, and passage of the law marked a significant shift in the immigration debate in Florida away from a focus on immigration enforcement.

"More than half of you speak a language other than English at home, but you speak the language of America," Biden said.