- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2013

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi privately has urged the Obama administration to halt deportations for some illegal immigrants, saying that President Obama needs to use more “discretion” to reduce the number of people he’s kicking out of the country.

In an interview with Telemundo over the weekend, Mrs. Pelosi said that just being in the country illegally is not enough of a reason to be deported, and she said illegal immigrants must have something more serious on their records.

“Our view of the law is that it — if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation,” she said in the interview, which an immigrant-rights group posted on its website. “If somebody has broken the law, committed a felony or something, that’s a different story.”

Drew Hammill, Mrs. Pelosi’s spokesman, said her comments are “a restatement of her long-held belief that being an undocumented immigrant is not a basis for deportation.”

He said Mrs. Pelosi would prefer, however, to pass a new law legalizing illegal immigrants in order to clear up the legal status.

Federal law generally does say that those who are in the country without authorization — either because they jumped the border or have overstayed their visas — are deportable.

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But Mr. Obama has claimed broad discretion to decide whom to deport out of the 11 million illegal immigrants estimated to be in the country, arguing that Congress only appropriated enough money to deport about 400,000 people a year and so he must pick and choose whom to deport.

Homeland Security officials argue that nearly all of those they deport do meet one of their priority categories of having a criminal record or having previously been deported and returned to the U.S. in violation of that removal.

In her interview with Telemundo, Mrs. Pelosi said she disputes that, saying she’s appeared alongside some of those she said shouldn’t have been deported.

“We have seen the personal stories, and we presented them to the administration,” she said. “I’m hopeful that with the documentation that we are providing to counter what others may be saying about who’s being deported, that we will see action from the president.”

Still, Mrs. Pelosi said she is not sure whether Mr. Obama has the authority to grant a broad suspension of deportations for parents of so-called Dreamers, the illegal immigrants whom the president already carved out of danger of deportation in an executive action last year.

“I don’t know whether he has the authority,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said. “But I think that there is discretion in the law as to the implementation, enforcement of the legislation that is calling for these deportations.”

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