Transcript of Pelosi, Medina Remarks Prior to Meeting with Fasters & Immigration Reform Advocates Today
Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez welcomed Eliseo Medina and immigration reform advocates to the Capitol today. Leader Pelosi and the Democratic leaders praised advocates’ efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform and discussed the importance of H.R. 15 – bipartisan immigration reform that will reduce the deficit by nearly $1 trillion, secure our borders, unite our families, protect our workers, and provide an earned pathway to citizenship. At the top of the meeting, Leader Pelosi and Eliseo Medina delivered brief remarks. Below is a transcript of their remarks:
Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. On behalf of my colleagues – the distinguished Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra, the former Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, the Ranking Member on the Small Business Committee, former Chair of that, Nydia Velázquez of New York – I’m pleased to welcome all of you back to the Capitol.
Of course, Eliseo Medina has become an icon in this fight for comprehensive immigration reform. I have known him for many years. He has always been a champion for justice in our society, and that has manifested itself now as the leader of the Fast for Families. Please, do welcome Eliseo, but also Reverend Jim Wallis, who has been a champion for so long, Guillermina Castellanos, Reverend Anthony Suarez once again, Dr. John McCullough, and Valarie Long of the SEIU. Welcome to the Capitol – along with, who is sitting with us on this side of the table, DJ Yoon, who’s been a faster and a campaigner for justice as well.
We have – I’m pleased to say – since last we met, 191 signatures on our discharge petition demanding a vote for comprehensive immigration reform now. Around the country, we have heard from all kinds of organizations and individuals – the BBB: the badges, the businesses, the bibles, as well our friends from labor and so many others – to support a demand for the vote. Whether it’s to support a discharge or whatever manifestation, any voice that they want to give.
There are 11 million people waiting for legalization and a path to citizenship. There are 1,100 people deported every day. And there’s one person standing in the way, and that is in the leadership of the Republican Party in the House. We’ve been trying to be as bipartisan as possible. But time is – the clock is ticking. We need a vote, and we need a vote now.
So, Eliseo, thank you for the inspiration that you have been. We’ve all drawn strength and inspiration from your fast and your past. And the renewal that comes from fasting is the renewal we need right here, in our legislative energy to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Eliseo, over to you.
Eliseo Medina. Well, thank you very much, Leader Pelosi. And first, let me start by thanking you on behalf of our delegation – thanking Congressman Hoyer, Congresswoman Velázquez, Congressman Becerra, for your steadfast support for immigration reform. We know that you’ve been out around the country, that you have met with families, that you have met with people of faith, from business, and community leaders. And you understand that we have a moral crisis in America, caused by our broken immigration system.
And that’s why we’ve been on this bus tour since January 27th to today. We have visited over 30 states, 96 congressional districts, and 112 cities, and traveled over 19,000 miles. And we look forward to having a conversation to tell you what we’ve heard in all of our stops throughout these 30 states – about the pain and suffering being experienced daily by our community. We also want to tell you about the joy from the DREAMers who feel, for the first time in their life, that they can go to school, that they can go to work free from the fear of arrest and deportation. We also want to report to you the hope – the hope that exists out there, not just among immigrants but non-immigrants too, that the Congress will act and will take a vote on immigration reform.
And we are so happy that you have graciously given us this time to come and share with you what we have heard. We have also asked Speaker Boehner for an opportunity to meet with his leadership team and share with them why this vote matters, why having an immigration vote will make things better – not just for immigrants, but for our country and for our economy and for our communities. Unfortunately, we have not heard yet whether the Speaker will consent to meet with us. We certainly hope he does, because from our perspective, this is not a Democratic or Republican issue. This is an American issue. And it ought to be addressed as such.
So we look forward to a conversation with you about how we can move together towards getting a vote and finally putting this nightmare behind us. So thank you, Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Hoyer, Ms. Velázquez, and Mr. Becerra, for meeting with us this morning.
Leader Pelosi. Eliseo, I think, before we proceed in our discussion – in the hope that you will have an opportunity to speak with the Speaker – let us, as we hear your report, let us begin with a prayer. Reverend Suarez, will you lead us in prayer?
Reverend Suarez. Heavenly Father, I pray that there would be a revival of compassion, a ministry of reconciliation, and a spirit of unity that would sweep the halls of Congress and our country. I pray against every spirit and attitude of division, dissension and discord. And I ask that you would convict every Member of Congress until they do what is morally right and pass immigration reform this year. And I ask these things in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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