Chuck Ross on June 27, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that it should not be a crime for immigrants to overstay their visas or violate their immigration status.
Pelosi’s comments echo those made at Wednesday’s Democratic debate by former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and highlight the Democratic Party’s rapid shift in favor of open border policies.
“It shouldn’t be a crime to have a status violation. If somebody commits a crime or is guilty of a crime … prosecutorial discretion would warrant that they, or justified that they be sent away,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.
Pelosi was fielding questions about a father and his daughter who were photographed after drowning in the Rio Grande while trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. The father reportedly attempted to cross the river after growing frustrated while his family waited to apply for asylum at a port of entry near Brownsville, Texas.
Democrats have blamed Trump administration policies for leading to the deaths. The policy of “metering” — which was implemented by former President Barack Obama in 2016 — has lengthened how long it takes for asylum-seekers to meet with immigration officers at the border. The policy has led some immigrants to illegally cross into the U.S. outside the ports of entry instead of waiting to apply for asylum.
Pelosi said that immigrants who take that route of entry should not face criminal charges. She went further and said that immigrants who overstay their visas should also not be charged.
“If you overstay your visa or if you’re coming in as this family would have been coming in, but they have narrowed the number of people coming in through the ports of entry, so they were coming in not through the ports of entry,” she said Thursday. “Weigh the equities, we’re talking about human lives.”
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Pelosi made similar remarks Monday when discussing a conversation she had with President Donald Trump on June 21 regarding plans to delay scheduled deportations of immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
“I said, ‘A violation of status is not a reason for deportation,’ that’s just not so,” Pelosi said she told Trump.
“If you have some case you want to make about somebody who’s been accused … that has nothing to do with violation of status, because then we’re talking about over 10 million people who may be subjected to this treatment, and what we need there is comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.”
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