In an interview this weekend with Telemundo, Democratic congressional leader Nancy Pelosi said that her office has been documenting and sharing deportation cases with the Obama Administration, with the hope that “we will see action from the president” in pausing such actions until the House of Representatives addresses comprehensive immigration reform. Pelosi also called the Administration’s “disparity” of prosecutorial discretion “wrong.” (UPDATE: Dream Action Coalition reporting that part of Pelosi’s interview was edited, and that the transcript obtained by them below reflects Pelosi’s additional comments that were not aired.)
A partial transcript of the full interview is here:
LORI MONTENEGRO: Now with the more time that goes by with no immigration reform, the calls for some type of administrative relief will– will increase, especially calling in President Obama to– ex– use his executive powers and suspend deportations, for example– for the parents of the dreamers. Do you think the president has that authority?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, I don’t know whether he has the authority. But I think that there is discretion in the law as to the impl– implementation, enforcement of– of– the legislation that is calling for these deportations. And I myself– coming from San Francisco, representing– being part of California– we have seen deportations that were totally unjustified, you know?
Our view of the law is that it– if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation. If somebody has broken the law, committed a felony or something, that’s a different story. And– when those people are apprehended, they are deported. So– I don’t see any reason for these deportations.
And– there has been un– it hasn’t been a uniform– enforcement of the law. So I think the d– prosecutorial discretion to say, “If your only violation is you overstayed or came in in a certain way, that’s no reason to split a family.” And we have seen the personal stories. And we presented them to the administration. So I think– I’m hopeful that with the documentation that we are providing to counter what others may be saying about who’s being deported, that we will see action from the president.
LORI MONTENEGRO: Will you ask– D.H.S., for example– to make sure that prosecutorial discretion in reality is being practiced. Because, as you yourself have just described, there are a lot of people who are being deported, who do not have a criminal record.
NANCY PELOSI: Exactly.
LORI MONTENEGRO: So is D– do you feel D.H.S. is– maybe is just not really– putting that into practice?
NANCY PELOSI: Well– we know what we see. And that– you know, we say the plural of anecdote is not data. They think they see a different set of data. But our anecdotes are– are illustrative. There– there are so many examples. And for years, we have been after the administration not to h– to have this– disparity of discretion that is used. It’s wrong.
I mean, I– I can give you– I– I appeared with these people in church myself, in public– and the rest. They– they have– it breaks your heart to see what is happening. It’s not the right thing. It’s not who we are as Americans. And if they need any more justification or documentation, we have been providing it. We stand ready to continue to provide it. We would frankly though like to move on and pass comprehensive immigration reform so that the problem is put to rest. In the meantime, 1,100 people, on average, a day, it’s just wrong.
LORI MONTENEGRO: I have one more question on immigration. And I have some other questions I’d like to get to. But in your mind, is there a set date in 2014 when this needs to be done, if it really is going to come to pass?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, it was only been the last few days that I– faced the reality that we weren’t going to have it in 2013. Early in the week, I spoke to speaker, I said, “Isn’t there just some small bill you could bring to the floor that would signal that we’re ready to go to conference with the Senate to work out our differences?” But he said, “Not before the first of the year.” So I’m hoping that it will be early in the year. I– I think it–
LORI MONTENEGRO: For example, if it’s June and it hasn’t happened?
NANCY PELOSI: Well, I– I think if it’s going to happen, it will happen before June. And I think that, you know, this is one of those things. We’re not going away. You know, the– we– we had a beautiful ceremony on the steps of the Capitol yesterday with the fasters as they were ending their fast for families and a fast immigration bill– two interpretations of the word “fast.”
Many of us have– some of our members have joined the fast. Many of us have visited them on a number of occasions, including the president of the United States. And all of that focus on the issue it’s to say, “We’re not going away. We need this. And every day– that we don’t pass it– we lose something as to– who we are as a country.”