House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) claimed on Wednesday that a vote for the Democratic Party in the coming midterm elections would provide “leverage” to illegal immigrants in the immigration debate.
She made those comments during a press conference held in El Paso, Texas, with immigrant-rights advocates and Veronica Escobar, the Democratic nominee in Texas’ 16th congressional district. The minority leader officially journeyed to the region in order to gauge the impact of policies instituted by the Trump administration to mitigate unlawful border crossings.
While discussing her opposition to the president’s zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration, which has since been rescinded, Pelosi was asked how long migrants, both lawful and unlawful, would have to wait for Congress to act on comprehensive reform.
The congresswoman asserted she didn’t “want to be political” in her response, before alleging reform would be impossible as long as the Republican Party remained in control of Congress.
Because this is the right thing to do, I have confidence that we will get where we need to go,” she said. “But everything is about time and we want to shorten the distance, as your question indicated, between what we think is inevitable for America, they think is inconceivable.”
“We believe that we can get this done,” she added. “We are not going to be able to get it done under the Republican leadership in Congress.”
Pelosi further elaborated that allies of immigration reform would receive a much warmer reception if Democrats seized the majorities in Congress.
“We believe that we will have leverage when we win in November,” Pelosi said. “And why is that important? Because it gives leverage to every family, to every mom who courageously brought her child across the desert to escape, to escape death, rape, gang violence, and the rest.”
The minority leader’s comments come as national Democrats have rallied to make immigration a focal point of the 2018 midterms.
In July, only 18 Democrats in the House of Representatives voted in favor of a resolution expressing support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
The resolution was brought forward to a vote in response to legislation introduced by House Democrats to abolish ICE after a vocal portion of the party’s leaders endorsed the agency’s dissolution.
A Gallup poll released last month indicated immigration is the most pressing problem Americans believe the nation is facing.