Pelosi Floor Remarks Opposing Republicans’ Anti-Immigrant Amicus Brief Resolution

March 17, 2016
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the floor of the House opposing Republicans’ anti-immigrant amicus brief resolution.  Below are the Leader’s remarks.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Happy St. Patrick ’s Day to you.  And what a way House Republicans have chosen to celebrate St. Patrick ’s Day.

“Today, we pay tribute to the contributions of generations of Irish immigrants and their descendants to the fabric of America.  Today, we are reminded that ours is truly a nation of immigrants, that immigrants have truly made America more American, with their optimism, their hope, their courage to come to America to make the future better for their families.  That's what America is all about, and that's what immigrants have strengthened.

“We have spent this entire week with our Irish friends celebrating the heritage of immigrants in America.  The Taoiseach – that would be the Prime Minister of Ireland – was here in the Capitol earlier in the week.  He spoke about immigration.  Last night, at the dinner and the letter that was read by the Irish Ambassador from the Taoiseach, he talked about immigration.  And here on the Floor of the House, we are talking about immigration in a totally negative way.  Why would House Republicans want to spend St. Patrick ’s Day in this insulting manner to Irish immigrants?

“House Republicans have brought forward a resolution authorizing the Speaker to file an anti-immigrant amicus brief in the Supreme Court, but they won't tell the House or American people what they are planning to say in it.  Given Republicans' past positions and rhetoric, that raises serious questions: will the Republicans yet again call for tearing apart families?  Will they call for deporting DREAMERs?  Will they yet again suggest a religious test for prospective immigrants?  Will they ask the Court to explore ending birthright American citizenship as they did in their immigration subcommittee hearing?

“Sadly, there is not much difference between this rhetoric of the Republican candidates for President and House Republicans when it comes to a record of appalling anti-immigrant statements and agenda of discrimination.  Furthermore, Republicans have denied House Democrats the opportunity to have a meaningful vote on our alternative amicus brief in support of the President's immigration executive actions, which we filed in the Court last week, 225 House and Senate Democrats.

“The fact is, the President's immigration actions fall within the legal and constitutional precedent established by every Administration, Republican and Democrat, since President Eisenhower.  The fact is, the President has the right to take these administrative actions under the law, and he also is following in the precedent of former presidents to do so.

“I don't know if the Republicans were silent or didn't know what was going on.  When President Reagan went further in his Administration – administrative actions on immigration in terms of affecting a higher percentage of immigrants than President Obama's actions have affected.  When the president is acting because Congress has refused to act, to pass comprehensive immigration reform – even when the Republicans in the Senate had a bipartisan bill that did not get a chance to have a vote in the House.  And so, the President has acted.  President Reagan, to his credit, acted even after Congress acted.  He signed the bill into law then he said back to Congress, ‘You didn't go far enough to protect families.’  So, he initiated, by executive action, Family Fairness.  And that was carried on by President George Herbert Walker Bush.  And the spirit of all that was carried on by President George W. Bush.  All of those, including President Clinton in between and President Obama – strong, strong advocates for comprehensive immigration reform and respecting the role that immigrants play as a constant reinvigoration of America.

“So, by legal authority and by the precedent of legal authority, the President has the right to do this.  If it was okay when President Reagan did it and President George Herbert Walker Bush did it, why isn't it okay when President Obama takes these same administration actions?  And as I said – affecting a smaller percentage of people than President Reagan did.

“So, here we go.  It's long time past for us to have comprehensive immigration reform that honors our heritage and history.  Immigration has always been the reinvigoration of America.  Each wave of immigrants brings their hopes, aspiration, faith, work ethic, and determination to succeed to our shores.  Let us not tear families apart and deport young DREAMERs and their parents.  Let us oppose this radical narrow-minded, anti-immigrant resolution.

“This St. Patrick ’s Day, let us recognize the immense contributions that immigrants of all cultures and all creeds have made to the past and to the present and to the greatness of America.  Happy St. Patrick ’s Day.  I yield back.  Thank you.”