Pelosi Remarks Following DREAM Act Roundtable with Young Immigrants
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616
Los Angeles – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Jimmy Gomez, LAUSD Officials, young immigrants and labor and business leaders for a roundtable discussion and press conference on passing the DREAM Act now. Below is a transcript of the press conference:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks
Leader Pelosi. Thank you, it’s with great humility that I follow you and your story, as well as the stories that we heard earlier.
To the DACA kids – know your power. Your DACA stories have the power of changing policy in our country. So as I say, with great humility, as we listen to their stories and all that power.
I take pride as I stand with my colleagues. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who is the mother of the DREAM Act, Congresswoman Judy Chu, the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific [American] Caucus which is working very hard with the Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus to get the votes in the Congress, to do inside maneuvering there.
Refreshed by the new fresh leadership of Congressman Jimmy Gomez in his district, we are. He spoke very eloquently about the need that is there and possibilities that are open to us.
We have the business community – we have the B’s – badges, the law enforcement community and the bible, the religious community strongly – contributing to the fact that as Congressman Gomez said, overwhelmingly the American people support the DREAMers.
Just a word about the President and the heartless act that he committed when he rescinded DACA. I have confidence that he believes in the DREAMers, he told us that, we said we have shared values when we spoke with him, with Leader Schumer and the three of us speaking together on this.
So I trust he will honor that commitment because the American people want him to do so.
I just want to make this point – I’ve been in Congress since Ronald Reagan was President, just since the end of his tenure. Ronald Reagan was great on immigration, even when Congress acted, he said, ‘you didn’t do enough. I’m going to have Family Fairness.’ He protected more people under his Family Fairness agenda – a higher percentage of people than President Obama did with protecting parents. Then George Herbert Walker Bush, George Bush followed in his footsteps protecting people – Republican Presidents.
Of course, Democrats were there, but I’m just talking about Republicans. George W. Bush couldn’t get his Caucus to follow him but all three of these Presidents in recent history, and we could go back further, but I’m just talking in recent history, all three of the Republican Presidents have strongly acknowledged the value of immigration to America.
The DREAMers – we have always been for comprehensive immigration reform – but the DREAMers, that piece of it was one that we thought had urgency and we had to act upon it as soon as we could. We passed it in 2010 – we couldn’t get the 60 votes in the Senate but now, now we must because President Trump has turned back what President Obama did.
Let me just in closing identify with [what] Congresswoman Roybal-Allard said, ‘these DREAMers are the legitimate heirs of our Founders, e pluribus unum, from many we are one.’ They couldn’t possibly have imagined how many people there would be and how different we would become – they didn’t imagine Italians I’m sure – but nonetheless e pluribus unum.
These DREAMers, their families, their parents, their moms and dads coming with their hopes, dreams, aspirations, their optimism, their courage to make the future better for their families – that’s what our Founders were about, making the future better for the next generation.
And so these DREAMers make America dream again. And so we must get this done by the end of the year, as I identify in the call to our Speaker – give us a vote. Many Republicans would vote for this if only they had the chance. Give them a chance to vote, give DREAMers a chance to succeed in America.
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Q: Do you have sense when it might come to floor? Obviously you said until the end of the year – not a whole lot of time? Is there any anticipation about when it will come to the Floor?
Leader Pelosi. Lucille Roybal-Allard’s bill, the DREAM Act – this is the bill that we’re trying to get the vote on. We have a discharge petition on the bill that is exactly like Lucille’s bill, the rule for Lucille’s bill. We have just one or two, Republicans who have signed on to the discharge but then five on the bill, so we need about 20 more. But we know they’re there. They tell us they’re there.
The whip operation on this – Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard can talk about the whip operation. All we need is a vote. All we need is vote. And do you know why? Because the DREAMers have conducted this crusade for America in such a dignified way and that’s why I think, as I said the President supports the DREAMers because the American people support the DREAMers and Republicans hear that in their districts.
So again, I’ve like to do that before thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving! We must do it before the end of the year.
Q: You said that you do have confidence in the President that he does want to protect DREAMers but given his confidence before on DACA, his flip flop on Obamacare – do you really have faith in him as a negotiating partner at this point?
Leader Pelosi. On the DREAMers – mhm -- and on [the rest] we’ll see. But the fact is – let’s get right back to the fact – the currency of the realm is the vote and he says over and over if this comes to your desk I would sign it.
Q: What do you tell the DREAMers who are saying that the Democratic Party is negotiating and working with Donald Trump with the DREAM Act, I know about a month ago there was a protest where people were upset that they weren’t being included? What do you say to those DREAMers
Leader Pelosi. We’re not, we’re not, we’re not. We’re not letting them use the DREAMers in order to enforce internal enforcement in our country. No DREAMers want us to do that and we’re not.
That protest was about all of us or none of us. They want comprehensive immigration reform, we do to. But right now we have decided to go down the path with the DREAMers. But right now what the White House has put out are some principles. They’re not principles – they’re unprincipled.
But as I say, I salute the DREAMers for their impatience, for their dissatisfaction, their relentless persistence. They have a channel, they’ve got to call Republican districts to get the votes.
Q: So you’re not willing to compromise what Trump wants with the DREAMers?
Leader Pelosi. Never, we think we have a responsibility to protect our border and there are some things we can do working together that does not include increased reinforcement internally in our country. That’s a bad deal all around, it’s un-American and we will fight that.
Q: Speaker, welcome to California, thank you for being here. I have to ask you, what does it really take to ask Paul Ryan to actually bring this vote to the Floor.
I mean there has been protest after protest, there was a huge movement over the weekend trying to establish across the nation that our President is mentally unfit and unstable to lead the country. And you’ve got Paul Ryan in what it feels like is in the mercy of whatever the boss says to do.
Leader Pelosi. Well, my colleagues have other things to say on this subject. But on this subject another President, President Lincoln said, ‘public sentiment is everything’ I’m paraphrasing now but with it you can accomplish almost anything, without it you can accomplish almost nothing. And the Speaker and Members will hear from these constituents about this because support for DREAMers is in every district in the country and Members have to pressure the Speaker to bring a bill to the Floor.
Lots of people in the business community – for reference the support of the business community what it’s cost the country – those people have to call the Speaker too. Because they have some report with him I guess, those people have to call the Speaker too.
But the fact is and again, I salute the dignity of the DREAMers for this. Let me thank CHIRLA. CHIRLA has been such a model of advocacy and values based prioritizing and the rest. Let’s thank CHIRLA for what they have done.
Q: I had a question about – how much are you willing to negotiate in terms of border security – there’s obviously a push to include a number of things in there – a wall.
Leader Pelosi. No wall.
Q: What are you willing to include – a lot DREAMers say, ‘we don’t want border security, we have enough border security, we don’t want to exchange our status for our parents getting deported.’
Leader Pelosi. Well it’s not about getting deported it’s about the question of the – I’ve asked the Hispanic Caucus, all of the caucuses, to say what is it do think would be appropriate? Some people suggested roads, things like that.
But again this isn’t coming from up high; this is coming from down low. What are the things that we can accept and maybe it’s nothing.
Q: I’ve got to ask you – are you blown away by what is happening in the country by the public sentiment, the things that are being said by the White House, the President and the revolving door with people that are high up. What does that say to the stability?
Leader Pelosi. I pray for them. I’ll say this, ‘our country is great, god is always with us, we can sustain this,’ but again we have to do so fighting for what is right for our country.
Congressman Jimmy Gomez. Somebody asked about trust. I don’t trust the President but what do you want us to do, walk away? No we’re not going to walk away.
Even if you follow another trust – trust but verify, the trust is that when we put a bill on his desk, that’s the trust part. The verification part is if he signs it or not and it will be up to President Trump if he will deny DREAMers and DACA recipients that access to the American dream. That’s what it’s about.
Leader Pelosi. And we see this as a test of trust, because we have said we’re disappointed in a number of things he has done as President but one place that we can find common ground that would be a threshold to talk about other issues is this.
This isn’t an issue for us, it’s a value, it’s an ethic. It’s who we are as a nation and we can’t chance that. So if he’s willing to join us in this then we have some other things to talk about.
Q: And Democrats are united and have a plan for this?
Leader Pelosi. Yes.
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