New York Times: Nancy Pelosi Held House Floor for 8 Hours to Advocate for ‘Dreamers’
February 7, 2018
By: Sheryl Gay Stolberg
WASHINGTON — Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, took to the House floor at precisely 10:04 a.m. E.S.T. Wednesday, intent on speaking about the young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers.”
More than eight hours later, she finally stopped talking.
Her marathon monologue — highly unusual for the House, which has no equivalent to the filibuster in the Senate — came as Republicans are scrambling to pass legislation to keep the government open. A short-term funding bill expires on Friday.
Ms. Pelosi has said she will not vote for the measure; she is protesting its lack of protection for the Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, who have been shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama-era initiative that President Trump has suspended.
Her talk was quickly dubbed the DACA-Buster on Twitter. (Twitter users also noted, in admiration, that six hours in, Ms. Pelosi was still wearing her four-inch heels.)
For hour after hour, Ms. Pelosi, 77, read heart-rending testimonies from Dreamers who had written their representatives about their lives. There was Andrea Seabra, who is serving in the Air Force, and whose father was a member of the Peruvian Air Force. And Carlos Gonzales, who once worked as an aide to former Representative Mike Honda, Democrat of California. And Al Okere, whose father was killed by the Nigerian police after he wrote in a newspaper criticizing the Nigerian government.
At one point, perhaps running out of stories, she suggested she might turn to the Bible. “Perhaps I should bring my rosary, blessed by the Pope,” Ms. Pelosi said.
An estimated 690,000 young undocumented immigrants have been protected under the DACA, and roughly 1.1 million more are eligible but did not apply. When Mr. Trump suspended the program in September, he gave Congress six months to come up with a replacement. Democrats and their progressive allies had hoped to use the must-pass spending bill to carry legislation to protect the Dreamers.
In the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has promised an open debate on immigration legislation if a deal is not reached by Thursday. In the House, Ms. Pelosi is calling on Speaker Paul D. Ryan to make a similar commitment. But that may not be enough for some of the advocates, who are furious that, as they see it, the Dreamers are being left behind.
“We want a negotiated solution that’s part of this spending bill — not a vague promise of floor action after it,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrants’ rights group. “We’re disappointed that a deal was cut without us, and we’re on the outside looking in, and we’re going to ask Democrats and Republicans who care about Dreamers to vote no.”