Pelosi Remarks at Congressional Hispanic Caucus Inauguration Day Press Conference
Contact: Drew Hammill/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the dangers of President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and highlight the remarkable contributions of immigrants to our communities. Below are the Leader’s remarks.
“Thank you Madam Chair. Thank you for bringing us together. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you to each and every one of you for your leadership on this very important issue, which is the constant reinvigoration of America. That is what immigration is. Every person who comes here, whether it was 200 years ago, two years ago or just recently, brings with him or her the optimism, the hope for the future, the determination, the courage to make the future better. That optimism is America. And again, their optimism makes our country stronger than we are. Thank you for making America more American.
“I see that the theme of today is to contrast – ‘Tear Down This Wall’ – what Ronald Reagan said, and the building of a wall that perhaps will be advocated by the next President. Let’s hope not.
“But let me say this – and I’m sure you’ve already heard from our leaders here on this subject – this is the first President in recent history who has been anti-immigration. President Obama – you know his record with the DREAMers, etc. President George W. Bush, a great President for immigration – rarely has he spoken out since he’s been President, but he did speak out on immigration in saying, ‘In the discussions that we have, we must treat our immigrants with respect.’ President Clinton – thoroughly encouraged and welcomed and respected what immigrants bring to our country. So, that takes us back to President George Herbert Walker Bush.
“When President Obama acted with Executive actions in the absence of Congressional action – we had a bipartisan bill in the Senate, they wouldn’t let it be taken up in the House. Over and over again, we passed in the House, the DREAMers Act, thanks to our Hispanic Caucus’ leadership, but the Senate wouldn’t give it the 60 votes despite Dick Durbin’s advocacy. Now, you know, we have the Bridge Act with Dianne Feinstein, etc.
“So, and I contrast that – President Obama had to act in the absence of Congressional action. President Reagan acted even after Congress acted. He passed the Immigration Act of 1986. Congress passed the bill, he signed it and he said, ‘That’s not enough. I want to do more for immigrants.’ So he instituted the Family Fairness Initiative to broaden the welcome that we give to immigrants. And President George Herbert Walker Bush, his successor – his Vice President and his successor – also advocated that.
“So, President Reagan, President Bush, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama all were on a path of values-based respect to the immigrant community in our country. And now, this President is going to say that DREAMers who are just so inspiring to all of us, are in jeopardy for coming forward? Their families are in jeopardy because they had the courage to come forward to make America more American? Without them, without our country.
“So, this is a departure from bipartisan support for the role of immigration into our country historically and recently. And we just have to keep speaking out about it so that public sentiment – which Abraham Lincoln said ‘Public sentiment is everything.’ And public sentiment will prevail and the President will know the harm that he is doing to our country by going forward with something that might have some popular appeal in the campaign, but has no place in the White House.”