Pelosi Remarks at Immigration Action Press Conference Today

Dec 4, 2014
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra joined immigration reform advocates at a press conference to speak out against House Republicans’ attempts to undermine the President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions today.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks:

“Good morning, everyone.  I hope it will be a good morning – as we proceed throughout this day to consider legislation to undermine the executive authority of the President of the United States.  I’m honored to be here with our Chair of our Caucus, Mr. Becerra, our distinguished Whip Mr. Hoyer, and Clarissa Martinez DeCastro, Director of State and Local Public Policy, of National Council of La Raza, Lorella Praeli, DREAMer, Advocacy & Policy Director of United We Dream, and Rocio Sáenz, International Executive Vice President, SEIU.  I say their names now because they’re going to come up without introduction and reintroduce themselves to you.  I’m saying how honored I am to be here with each and every one of them on this day – more than 520 days since the U.S. Senate, in a strong bipartisan way, passed comprehensive immigration reform. 

“Time and again, the Republican Leadership in the House has promised comprehensive reform to fix our broken immigration system.  Time and time again, they have broken that commitment to bring legislation to the floor.  They have refused.  In the face of the failure of the Republican Leadership to follow the lead of the Republicans in the Senate to work in a strong bipartisan way, the President of the United States has appropriately announced executive action to help.  Thanks to the President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions, millions of hardworking, law-abiding families will be able to celebrate the holidays with renewed hope – hope in the future, free from the fear of separation and deportation.

“Every Administration – just even going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower – has used the same broad constitutional and legal authority used by President Obama, Republican and Democratic alike.  There are those who have said: ‘Well, the numbers were not as large as they are now.’  Well, they are large in proportion to what the need was at the time.  I’m sorry we don’t have our picture of Ronald Reagan here – we’ll save that for the floor.  But Ronald Reagan not only took executive action – he acted after Congress acted, and said: ‘Not good enough,’ and initiated, along with George H.W. Bush, the Family Fairness initiative to unite families and keep them safe.  And so, not only did he act as President Obama will do in the absence of Congressional action – he acted on top of Congressional action which he did not deem to be enough.

“One of the bills before the House today: the Republicans are demanding that we deport hundreds of thousands of young DREAMers who know no country but the United States.  And I won’t go into all that that bill will do – we’ll have that discussion on the floor.  But let us recognize that immigration is the lifeblood of America – the constant reinvigoration of our country.  Every immigrant that has come with hope, optimism, determination, courage to make the future better for their families – all of those immigrants, having those American values of optimism, hope and courage, every one of those immigrants has made America more American.

“Let us be true to the values of our country.  Let us recognize what the source of our strength is in the world.  Let us honor the President’s executive authority to take action.  But more importantly, let us have a vote on the floor in the House.  There’s still plenty of time to do it as the executive action takes effect.  We’re not giving up hope for comprehensive immigration reform.  As effective as the President’s action will be, legislation would be better.  So please: there are 11 million people in need of having their documentation put in order; there are 1,100 who have been deported on some days of the week; there’s one person standing in the way, and that is the Speaker of the House.  We ask for a bill, and we ask for rejection of what is on the floor today.  With that, I’m very pleased to yield to the distinguished House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.”

* * *

Leader Pelosi.  We have a vote but there may be time for one or two questions.

Q:  Madam Leader, will you comment on whether Democrats will be supporting the “CRomibus” legislation? 

Leader Pelosi.  We are here today for a specific purpose and that is to talk about the unfortunate legislation that is on the floor.  We haven’t seen what the Republicans are posing.  When we do, we’ll have a comment on it.  In that regard, I have reached out to the Speaker and said: “Extend the hand of friendship.  We want to work together to pass a bill to keep government open, as we had to supply the votes last year to open up government.  Let us supply the votes to keep government open.  But we can’t do it unless we have a bill that is worthy of our support.” 

But let’s get back to this issue.

Yes?

Q:  Are you concerned that Obama’s executive order will incentivize people in other countries to come here, seeking the benefits in the executive order?

Leader Pelosi.  [Congressman Becerra], do you want to speak to that?  No, I’m not concerned for these reasons.

Congressman Becerra.  No one qualifies unless they have a long-standing tenure in this country and have a direct link to a U.S. citizen into the country.  So it would be impossible for someone who is not in this country to think that this is an opportunity for them to [come].  So, no, I don’t think there is any concern that this is going to bring someone not in the country in.  As you’ve heard from those who are here, this is something that affects people who have been here for 16 years – compare that to those who are thinking of coming here in 16 weeks. 

Leader Pelosi.  Unfortunately the time is up on the clock so Members have to go.  Thank you all very much for coming.  Thank you all. 

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