Just because "somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said during a weekend interview
with Spanish-language network Telemundo.
The California Democrat ramped up the pressure
on the Obama administration's pace of deportations, adding to the criticism her fellow Democrat is getting from advocates who complain that a high number of undocumented immigrants have been deported since he took office.
"Our view of the law is, if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation, said Pelosi. "If someone has broken the law or committed a felony or something, that is a different story."
Pelosi said she has seen people deported from her hometown of San Francisco for reasons that were "totally unjustified."
"When most people are apprehended, they are deported," Pelosi told Telemundo. "I don't see any reason for these deportations."
Pelosi didn't answer when asked if President Barack Obama could halt deportations.
While some of her remarks were not aired but released in a transcript on Monday by the DRM Action Coalition, her spokesman, Drew Hammill, told Politico that she simply restated her "long-held belief that being an undocumented immigrant is not a basis for deportation."
According to advocacy groups, around 1,100 undocumented immigrants are deported every day under Obama's watch. Immigration reform is virtually at a standstill, so attention has been turned toward the president, even from members of his own party.
Twenty-nine House Democrats wrote to Obama earlier this month to ask that he stop deportations for people who would qualify to become legalized under immigration reform efforts, such as the Senate's "Gang of Eight" legislation, which has remained on hold
in the Republican-controlled House since the Senate passed it in July.
The California lawmaker called for enacting comprehensive immigration reform through Congress, saying she hopes to see action from Obama as immigrant rights groups call on him to stop deportations that split families.
"For years, we have been after the administration not to have this disparity of discretion that is used," Pelosi said. "It’s wrong."
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