Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement at a news conference this morning to unveil an amicus brief filed by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan and more than 60 House Democrats this week. The brief expresses support for the University of Michigans admissions policies that are being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court:
"Thank you, Mr. Conyers, for your leadership in supporting affirmative action. And my thanks to all of my colleagues who are joining us here today, and to so many distinguished alumni of the great University of Michigan.
"We are proud that America is a land of opportunity. We are all proud that in America, a child from a humble background can become a corporate leader, a university president, a renowned musician, or an astronaut. And we are proud that in America, we recognize the barriers to opportunity, and we work together to overcome them.
"Race and poverty, together or separately, too often pose insurmountable barriers to Americans who seek to better their lives and contribute to society.
"Affirmative action in education gives students a ladder to climb over the barriers to opportunity. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration wants to haul that ladder away.
"At the same time, the Administration is carting away the other tools that students could use to live their dreams. The Administration has labeled more than 8,000 high-poverty schools as failing, but it denies the funding promised to turn those schools around - falling short by more than $6 billion dollars.
"The Presidents budget cuts after-school programs by 40 percent. It freezes Pell Grants, even as the cost of higher education climbs. Sadly, these are just a few examples of the tools that the President is taking away from minority and disadvantaged children and youth.
"It is encouraging to see the groundswell of support for the University of Michigans affirmative action program. Fortune 500 companies, labor unions, other universities, and former military officials - these and many more are standing up for opportunity for all Americans. They know that in our diversity is our greatest strength.
"In America, the beauty is in the mix. From that beauty flows our moral
strength, our boundless creativity, and our versatility. We must not give that
beauty up. We must not deprive our young people of the opportunity for greatness."
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