House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, on back-to-back stops in California on Monday, urged passage of the DREAM Act to shield so-called “Dreamers” from deportation, and pressed for broader immigration reform to create a “path to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
“We have commitment to do this in a bipartisan way,” Pelosi said about passing the DREAM Act at a press conference at Sacramento State, where she was joined by fellow Democratic Reps. Doris Matsui of Sacramento, Ami Bera of Elk Grove and Jerry McNerney of Stockton.
“This is just the first step,” added Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco. “We must have comprehensive immigration reform to protect everyone.”
Several people gathered at Sacramento State carried signs that read “Stop deporting people,” and “If they won’t let us dream, we won’t let them sleep.” The crowd, of about 50 people, cheered Pelosi when she said Congress would take up the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have also urged Congress to pass it.
“People against it associate immigrants with criminals ... we’re here to let them know we stand with them,” said Beatriz Solorio, 18, a Sacramento State student.
At an earlier press conference in San Francisco, Pelosi was shouted down by protesters who criticized her for working with President Donald Trump on immigration.
“We are immigrant youth, undocumented and unafraid,” several dozen young people chanted as they overtook the San Francisco event.
Earlier this month, Pelosi and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer touted a deal that seeks to shield undocumented “Dreamers” from deportation in exchange for Trump’s demand to bolster security along the U.S.-Mexico border. In public appearances after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Trump again pressed his case for building a southern border wall.
In video accounts of the press conference, protesters were shown chanting “Listen to us,” and “Do you know how bad it hurts?”
Pelosi tried several times to address the loud and boisterous crowd, and planned to introduce a “Dreamer” to speak, according to a spokesman from her office. She left after 30 minutes, and got few words in, according to media accounts on Twitter. “You’ve had your say, and it’s beautiful music to our ears,” she told the crowd as it erupted again in loud shouts pressing for protections for “Dreamers.” “Just stop it now.”
As she was escorted out, Pelosi said: “They don’t want the DREAM Act.” Protesters held up signs that read “Protect all 11 million,” referring to the estimated number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Trump this month decided to end the DACA program. He urged Congress to pass a replacement measure.
Talking to reporters after she left the news conference, Pelosi said she understands protesters’ frustration, according to a transcript of her interview, but said, “Trump has the signature.”
Asked about protesters who continuously interrupted her, she said: “I wish they would channel some of that energy into the Republican districts so we can pass the DREAM Act. But they don’t want the DREAM Act. They made it clear.”
In Sacramento, she said she related to the protesters.
“We’re all disrupters ourselves, so we recognize it and respect it,” Pelosi said.