House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that everyone living within the boundaries of the United States deserve rights, regardless of their legal status.
Pelosi spoke at an ad hoc hearing held by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to hear testimony from three minors who described how and why they came to America. Pelosi said the U.S. needs to “have a heart” and find ways to aid the thousands of children who have traveled across the southern U.S. border.
“It’s not just about having a heart, it’s about having a soul,” Pelosi said. “And the soul of our country is about respecting the dignity and worth of every person. The soul of our country is about giving every person access to rights who is in our country.”
Pelosi also indicated support for the idea that all immigrants need to be represented before they are deported, a reaction to the Republican push for faster deportations. She said she had just met with a mutual friend of other Democrats, who said, “We cannot have deportation without representation.”
“So I also thank the groups who are here who advocate for proper representation,” she said.
Pelosi said she opposes the Republicans’ proposal to spend $659 million for the next two months to help secure the border and speed up the process of deporting illegal immigrant children. That bill would spend much more in fiscal year 2014 than Obama’s proposal, but Pelosi said it doesn’t provide enough resources.
She also reiterated her argument that the border crisis is a reason to pass the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, and it not a reason to hold it up, as Republicans have said.
“The argument some make that because of what’s happening on the border, we shouldn’t pass comprehensive immigration reform is upside down,” she said. “Because of what’s happening on the border, we even more quickly pass comprehensive immigration reform.”