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Transcript of Pelosi, House Democratic Members Press Event Today Demanding Action on Immigration Reform

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Members held a press event today calling on Speaker Boehner and House Republicans to take action on H.R. 15 – the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill with over 190 cosponsors – which 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 opening and closing remarks:

Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks

“Good afternoon, everyone.  It is with great pride that Members of Congress come together on the steps of the Capitol to welcome our friends from Fast for Families, who are fasting for a vote.  We welcome you here with pride, but also with humility – humility that we have not been able to get a vote on the floor of the House yet for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform, one form of which has already passed the United States Senate. 

“I’m honored to be here with my colleagues, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Xavier Bercerra, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Joe Kennedy, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa and many other Members of Congress on the steps of the Capitol to pay our respects to you.  Members of Fast for Families: Eliseo Medina, Dae Joong Yoon, Reverend Jim Wallis, so many others who have fasted, and stopped their fast and transferred that cross to others.  I’m proud of our Members who have joined the fast and you’ll hear from some of them this afternoon.

“Now, one of the biggest advocates for immigration reform in Washington, D.C. was President George W. Bush.  As a former Governor of Texas he understood the issue.  He knew how important it was and he advocated for it.  It didn’t happen.  He couldn’t convince his own party to vote for it.  But in this debate now on the bill he hasn’t spoken out about many issues.  But he has spoken out and he said:  ‘When we have this debate on immigration, we have to do so with values and respect for the people, whose needs we hope to address.’ 

“And passing immigration reform is about growing our economy.  It’s not just about the individual families, although that is the most important reason to do it.  But as I said before and I continue to say, when newcomers come to America with their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations for a better life for their families, they come here with their work ethic, their family values, their spirit of community, their faith – so faith-filled are they.  Those are American values and in bringing those values of optimism, determination and the rest they make America more American. 

[Applause]

“So what we’re doing on this immigration reform is making America more American in terms of values.  We’re making America stronger economically, because again, this brings hundreds of billions of dollars to the Treasury and grows our economy with invigoration.  The constant reinvigoration of America – that’s who we are as a people.  That’s what immigration has brought to our country.  That is what has kept America number one.   So we thank the fasters for their sacrifice.

[Applause]

“We thank the fasters for shining a bright light on the Capitol of the United States, where this bill has not been passed.  But we are ever optimistic.  It’s all about time.  For us it is inevitable that we will pass comprehensive immigration reform.                  

[Applause]

“For some, it is inconceivable that they will stand in the way.  But we know that it will happen.  And we just have to shorten the time between the inevitable to us and the inconceivable to them.   And our fasters are making the value of time even weightier by using their time to make a sacrifice in public view.   They are respected by all Americans and we are forever in their debt.  And we make this promise to them: we aren’t going away.   This is going to happen.  It’s just a matter of time.  In that regard, I’m pleased to yield to my colleague who is just back from South Africa, going to the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Congressman John Lewis.”

Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks

“Once again, to our fasters and to everyone who cares about the greatness of America – who understands what immigration does for our country – we are deeply in your debt.  Many people have worked for a long time for comprehensive immigration reform.  You are taking us the last mile.  Thank you so much to our fasters.   Thank you all.  Thank you to my colleagues who are here as well.”  

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