House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that illegal immigrant parents who brought their children to the U.S. in defiance of the law “did a great thing,” giving the country an infusion of successful young people.
Mrs. Pelosi’s comments strike a dissonant note from many analysts, who while saying the Dreamers are sympathetic since they had no say in the decision, say the parents do deserve blame for creating the problem.
He comments came after she was shouted down by protesters earlier this week who interrupted her at an event, and demanded she do more to protect all illegal immigrants. Mrs. Pelosi, at her weekly press conference in Washington on Wednesday, said she does want to protect a broader swath of illegal immigrants, but that’s not the debate at this point.
“We don’t have that opportunity now,” she said.
President Trump’s decision earlier this month to phase out the legally questionable Obama-era deportation amnesty for young illegal immigrants, known as DACA, has ignited a fierce push in Congress to grant a more permanent legal status for the Dreamers.
Most lawmakers say they believe the children deserve special consideration because they are without blame, having been brought to the U.S. as minors without any say. Those lawmakers say the children shouldn’t be punished for their parents’ decisions.
But Mrs. Pelosi said those parents’ decision was actually a positive.
“Their families did a great thing for our country bringing these kids here,” she said.
She said Democrats are rallying around a bill that would greatly expand the number of illegal immigrants eligible for legal status beyond the DACA program. Any illegal immigrant who came to the U.S. under age 18, who has been in the U.S. for four years and who has worked toward a high school diploma could qualify.
According to the bill, even those who came on their own and weren’t brought by parents — some of those who streamed into the U.S. as part of the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) surge of the Obama years — would qualify.