Pelosi Remarks at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Annual Legislative Summit Today

March 27, 2014
Speech

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, joined by Vice President Joe Biden and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, delivered remarks at the United States Chamber of Commerce’s (USHCC) 2014 Annual Legislative Summit today.  Leader Pelosi highlighted the USHCC’s efforts as a tireless advocate for Hispanic business owners throughout the country and underscored that the #TimeIsNow to pass comprehensive immigration reform that reduces the deficit by nearly $1 trillion, secures our borders, unites our families, protects our workers, and provides an earned pathway to citizenship.

“Javier, thank you so much for your tremendous leadership as the President of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  I thank you for your very generous words of welcome.  I accept all of those complements on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, whose greetings I’m honored to bring to all of you today – to you, Javier, to Marc Rodriquez, Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and to each and every one of you.  I’m honored to be with my colleague, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Xavier Becerra, and we both are thrilled that Vice President Biden will be addressing us momentarily.

“It is a very important time in the history of America.  We have a moment of truth that we must take advantage of.  But first, as I bring you greetings, I want to pay my respects to you.

“For 35 years, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has stood as a tireless advocate for Hispanic business owners, and a champion of progress and sustainable prosperity for all Americans.

“Because of your dedication and leadership, the Latino community has become one of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial forces in our economy.  In recent years, the number of Latino-owned businesses has more than doubled, and their revenue continues to surge.  And Latina entrepreneurs – many of them are here – are leading the charge – starting up companies at six times the national average.

[Applause]

“When it comes to fighting for small businesses, there’s no greater advocate than my colleague, former Chair and Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez,

[Applause]

“Together with President Obama’s nominee to head the Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet, Congresswoman Velazquez’ leadership will continue to ensure that the Latino and Latina entrepreneurs represented here today have the support and access to capital they need to make their businesses grow, so that they can create jobs, empower their communities, and fulfill the American Dream.  You probably have heard this already, but Maria Contreras-Sweet was approved by the Senate by a voice vote this morning.

[Applause]

“We’re very grateful to President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden for placing her name in nomination.  We’re all in that mood of the recognition of that role that you play in the growth of our country.

[Applause]

“We are, by and large, a nation of immigrants.  We love and respect our first Americans, Native Americans.  But, history shows us that every wave of newcomers to America has reinvigorated our culture, our society, and our economy.  Javier spoke so beautifully – both Xavier with an ‘X,’ and Javier with a ‘J’ – spoke so beautifully.

[Laughter]

“Our nation’s success is built on the shoulders of generations of immigrants who crossed oceans and deserts and whatever, often with little more than their hopes, their dreams and their determination to build a better future for themselves and their families.  We all know that.  That optimism, that entrepreneurial spirit is what defines us as Americans.  It is one of the great sources of our strength.  And so that’s why I always say: every newcomer who comes with that spirit makes America more American.  And it is time to pass – long overdue – the time cannot pass any further for us to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and recognize and embrace that spirit, that immigrant, constant reinvigoration.

“Now is the time to give our nation immigration reform that lives up to our values and our history – reform that creates jobs, empowers small businesses, spurs innovation and energizes our economy.  It is time for the House to act. We have as Xavier Becerra, our Chairman mentioned earlier, we have 200 cosponsors on the bill – 3 Republicans on the bill.  It is bipartisan.  It is bipartisan in its nature.  It is their bill – one in the House, one in the Senate, that we put together.  So it’s all there.

“So why, as Javier with a ‘J,’ Javier Palomarez, mentioned, why is this not happening?  Overwhelmingly, the American people support comprehensive immigration reform.  It is non-partisan – [it’s] bi-partisan.  It is non-partisan in the majorities – Democratic voters, Republicans, ‘declined to state,’ Independents, whatever. Overwhelmingly, the Senate passed the bill in a bipartisan way.  We have bipartisan support in the House, and many Members who may not be sponsors but who have pledged their support.  Give us a vote.

“And I tell you, when I hear most of the Members talking about the fact that this is non-partisan, who better a spokesperson for comprehensive immigration reform than George W. Bush?  He was a wonderful president on the subject.  He really believed in it.  And he has spoken since he was president to say, as we debate this issue, let us do so with respect for the immigrant community.  He saw a need to say that.

“But I will tell you what I hope to see in the House in asking for a vote.  Eleven million people, we want to put them on the path to citizenship.  Eleven hundred people are being deported each day.  One person can call that shot.  And I said to the Speaker: ‘This issue is so important to America.  It’s so transformative’ – as Javier said – ‘to our country – to do this right.’  I believe, and I say this with all sincerity again: it is more important pass comprehensive immigration reform to me and my Caucus than to win the election in November.

[Applause]

“Why wouldn’t we do more for our country?  We could do way more by passing this.  Xavier Becerra in our Caucus has been such a champion.  And Javier Palomarez has been one of the leading advocates for saying that comprehensive immigration reform is good for the economy.  Comprehensive immigration reform is good for business, good for our economy, and good for our nation.

“With these sensible and comprehensive reforms, as Xavier said – Xavier Becerra asked for the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office – the independent CBO – to give a report on what the fiscal impact, the budget impact of passing H.R. 15 would be.  They came back and said: over $900 billion over twenty years in reduction of the deficit, lift millions of prospective consumers, taxpayers and employees out of the shadows, and fuel consumer demand in every sector of our economy.

“Economists estimate that citizenship will increase wages by 25 percent, create an average of 159,000 new jobs each year – which is very consistent with Javier Palomarez saying 1.6 million jobs over 10 years – 160,000 each year.  And it will support over 2.4 million current retirees with additional contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

“It’s no surprise it has consistently enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress, and the overwhelming support of law enforcement.  We have the badges – law enforcement community is there saying: ‘Pass a bill.  give us a vote.’  The business community: Javier spelled out the leaders of business, the business community: ‘Give us a vote.’  The faith community – the bible.  Badges, business, and bible, across the board, universally, unanimously supporting comprehensive immigration reform.  The most conservative Evangelicals and other Evangelicals, every denomination – the Protestant faith, the Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Jewish community, our wonderful American-South Asians and Asian and all the denominations of their faith – everybody agrees: pass the bill.  Give us a vote.

“Some say we don’t have the votes.  Well, let’s find out.  Our comprehensive immigration reform legislation is supported by 200 Members, including 3 Republicans.  And it has been almost nine months, as Xavier said, since the Senate passed comprehensive legislation by an overwhelming and bipartisan margin.  Nine months.  The American people are tired of waiting.  We are demanding a vote.  And, as Javier Palomarez said, we’re not going to let it stop.  People say: ‘Oh, its reached a point.’  No, it hasn’t.  We’re not going away.  This must happen and it must happen soon.

[Applause]

“If it doesn’t, the Senate bill goes away – that becomes expired without passing it out.

“So yesterday, House Democrats took action, filing an official ‘Demand A Vote’ petition to force the House to hold a vote on the comprehensive immigration reform legislation our nation wants and needs.  And we did that because it was in our power to do so, to demand a vote officially, while people were having hunger strikes across the country, heading for Washington in motorcades, bus tours and the rest – grassroots level advocacy.  Everybody is doing what it is in their power to do, and so are we.  And so we are asking the Speaker: ‘Give us a vote.’

“With this legislation, we can revitalize the engines of innovation, determination and entrepreneurship that make our country great.  By the way, I just have to tell you my own bias.  I want this bill desperately.  I want to make almost every compromise possible.  But we cannot compromise on the path to citizenship.

[Applause]

“It cannot have a provision that prevents it from having it.  And then we can build a brighter, more prosperous future for ourselves, and our children, and our children’s children.  All of our men and women in uniform, I visit them all over the world, and so many of them are from the Hispanic community.  This is a greatly patriotic community.  This is a community that is building the economy of America.  This is a community that’s rooted in faith and family and community and the rest.  This is an all-American community working with other all-American immigrant communities to make the future better, raising ladders of opportunity, breathing new life into our economy and reducing the deficit.

“Together, we will demand a vote.  And together, we will pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Thank you, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for your commitment, for your energy and your leadership – for your community, and for all Americans.”

[Applause]