Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the Camino Americano Immigration Dignity and Respect Concert and March joining thousands of immigration activists from across the country in calling on Congress to pass bipartisan immigration reform that secures our borders, protects our workers, unites our families, strengthens our nation’s economy, and provides an earned pathway to citizenship. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you, Kica [Matos]. Thank you Kica for your generous introduction and to the Center for Community Change and your leadership, to Gustavo Torres and all of the organizers of today’s concert and march, for standing firm for immigrant rights.
“It’s an honor to be here with the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Xavier Becerra.
“With our champion on immigration, [Congressman] Luis Gutierrez.
“The Chair of the [Congressional] Hispanic Caucus, [Congressman] Ruben Hinojosa.
“And so many of my colleagues from the House Democratic Caucus and our Republican colleagues as well. I want to acknowledge the presence of [Congresswoman] Nydia Velázquez and thank her and the [Congressional] Hispanic Caucus for taking the lead in passing the DREAM Act in 2010 in the House of Representatives. Thank you, [Congresswoman] Nydia Velázquez.
“Unfortunately, and things are better now, unfortunately at that time, we could only get about seven Republican votes. But nonetheless, we passed a bill. It was halted in the Senate because they insisted on 60 votes. And that’s why it didn’t become the law of the land. But we thought that was a good first step. Unfortunately, those in the Senate, the Republicans in the Senate had another idea. I wouldn’t have brought that up except it was sort of referred to by earlier speakers.
“I also want to say, I also want to say how much, as we gather in front of the Capitol of the United States, we all support the courage, the courage and the strength of our men and women in uniform and how they make our country strong. And we want to recognize the diversity of our Armed Services and our veterans to keep us the land of the free and the home of the brave. And when I visit the troops in our country and our hospitals, I see many members of our minority community who are making a sacrifice, as is our families for our country.
“So, let us salute all of our men and women in uniform and our minority men and women in uniform.
“I want to join my colleague who – thank the President for enabling us to gather here and also thank the President that veterans were able to gather at the World War II Memorial. And they said, the veterans said, contrary to the impression that may have been left here, the veterans said: ‘The Park Service bent over backward for us to be able to visit the World War II Memorial.’
“Now that we have attended to that, the time is now for comprehensive immigration reform for our veterans and for all of the American people!
“We must pass the legislation.
[Crowd Chants: “!Si Se Puede!”]
“¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! When we pass the legislation, and we will with a bipartisan comprehensive bill and I’m pleased to be standing here with many, many Members of our Caucus who represent the Hispanic Caucus, the Asian Pacific American Islander Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus as we stand before you with the full diversity of our Caucus standing behind this immigration bill.
“[Congressman] John Lewis where are you?
“[Congressman] Mike Honda!
“By and large, we are a nation of immigrants. With all of the respect and love for our Native American brothers and sisters, we are by and large, a nation of immigrants. We must remember that the blood of immigrants flows through our veins and all of the immigrants, all of the immigrants who come to America, whether it was a month ago, [or] 300 hundred years ago, all of them bring with them their hope, their determination, their optimism for the future, their commitment to family and faith and community.
“And in coming here with those American traits all of the immigrants make America more American. Thank you for making America more American!
“Just last week, just last week House Democrats stood up to put forth a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill to secure our borders, to protect our workers, to unite our families, and to provide a path to earned citizenship – to earned citizenship. This earned citizenship is important to the individuals, to their families it’s also important to the character of who we are as a country, with respect and dignity. And I thank you for the respect and dignity that this march is named for.
“And it’s good for our economy, immigration equals innovation. Remember that! The innovation needed to build prosperity for all Americans to create jobs and economic growth. And immigration reform will reduce our deficit by $900 billion over the next two decades. It’s good for business, it’s good for workers, it’s good for families, [and] it’s good for our nation’s success. So we must do this.
“One more thing I want to say, I again want to thank you all for insuring the dignity and respect of every immigrant who comes to our shores. And in this debate, we must keep that value as a guiding principle the respect and dignity of every person. For dreamers, for families, for immigrants past, present and future, we have no time to waste. The time is now for equality and opportunity for every immigrant to have a fair shot at the American dream. The time is now for our country to live up to the best traditions of liberty and justice for all!
“The time is now – and I see so many of our friends in labor who are here in solidarity on comprehensive immigration reform. I thank our friends in labor. It’s time, again, to make bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform the law of the land. I thank you because it’s taken a while and we’ve had some moments shall we say. But I thank you for subscribing to the idea: ‘Don’t agonize, organize!’
“Let us act without further delay. Let’s get a vote on the floor. We want a vote on the floor, call for a vote on the floor because the time for immigration reform is now! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede! Yes we can!
“And now, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing a group that has recorded more than 500 songs, sold over 37 million albums worldwide, and received countless platinum records and numerous awards including multiple Grammy Awards and a Latin Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. Even after an unrivaled career spanning four decades, these musicians continued to play at the forefront of music uplifting the voices and stories of millions of Latinos in America and beyond. Please join us all in welcoming Los Tigres del Norte!”