Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Calling on Republicans to Address Broken Immigration System Following Misguided Fifth Circuit Court Decision

November 17, 2015
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at a press conference urging House Republicans to address our broken immigration system following the Fifth Circuit Court’s misguided delay of President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for a very productive House Democratic Caucus this morning. I want to associate myself with your remarks about extending our sympathies to the people of France. I also extend that to the people of Lebanon for the losses they suffered last week. France is our oldest friend – our oldest friend. And as I wrote in the book yesterday at the Embassy, France – our oldest friend – we extend sympathy and fraternity. When 9/11 hit, the French press said: ‘We are all Americans.’ We are all French now.

“As we approach the issues that are the source of concern there, we have to recognize that protecting people is our first responsibility. But we also cannot yield to terrorists, whose goal is to instill fear and change who we are and our way of life. So again, I associate myself further with your remarks today.

“We are gathered in response to the Fifth Circuit’s misguided decision, which was disappointing for families and communities across America. But we’re glad for the opportunity to move forward and resolve this issue. Continuing to stall essential elements of the Immigration Accountability Executive Actions issued by President Obama only perpetuates a broken immigration system that tears families apart and fails to serve the national interest. We must not continue to defer the dreams of the hard-working immigrant families who give so much to our communities.

“At our meeting this morning, our Ranking Member on the immigration committee, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California – a person who has been an immigration lawyer, taught immigration law, chaired the immigration committee – presented us with the option of signing an amicus brief in this case. One of the points that will be made in the brief is about precedent and the President’s authority. It’s just stunning that people are saying that this president does not have this authority.

“Just as presidents before him, President Obama has broad authority to make our immigration system better meet the needs of our country and reflect our shared values. And every Administration, Democratic or Republican, since President Dwight David Eisenhower has used executive authority to do just that.

“In fact, even when Congress has acted – our President is acting in the absence of congressional action. He’s saying: ‘I would prefer that Congress act and pass comprehensive immigration reform,’ but in the absence of that, he has, discreetly, using his authorities, taken his presidential executive actions. But even when Congress did act in 1986 – it was called the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act – President Ronald Reagan and, following him, President George Herbert Walker Bush took bold action to protect the spouses and children of people who received status under that law. They said [that] Congress did not go far enough, so they initiated Family Fairness initiatives even after Congress acted.

“If President George Herbert Walker Bush and President Ronald Reagan took those bold actions, how can you say – this court say – that this president doesn’t have the authority to do exactly what they did. In fact, they affected a higher percentage of people than President Obama’s actions. Although Congress explicitly chose not to grant status, as I said, to the people that President Reagan and President Bush extended it to, Presidents Reagan and Bush recognized that it was not in the national interest to separate families. God bless them for that.

“Especially as we approach Thanksgiving, we should remember the cruel impact of our broken immigration system on millions of families. We must rededicate ourselves to advancing comprehensive immigration reform that honors families and strengthens our communities. While we remain confident that President Obama’s executive actions will be upheld, they are no substitute for Congress acting to pass the comprehensive immigration reform our nation so urgently needs.

“I just hope that we can move this forward. There have been some delaying – what I perceive to be delaying tactics on the part of the District Court. I hope that this can move expeditiously so that it can be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in this coming session. It has to be done by, sort of, the end of April for them to proceed in that way.

“So this is really very important. It has been a year since the President took his action. It has all the legal authorities in the law, precedents by former presidents. This is a very misguided decision. It must be reversed. With that, I’m pleased to the distinguished Assistant Leader, Mr. Clyburn.”