Pelosi visits Elmhurst to talk immigration census

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump delayed deportation raids in immigrant communities to give Congress two weeks to “work out a solution to the asylum and loophole problems” at the southern border.

If not, he warned, then Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin removal of up to 2,000 families that either missed a court date or were served deportation orders.

“Probably won’t happen, but worth a try,” Trump tweeted. “Two weeks and big Deportation begins!”

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Elmhurst for a discussion about the raids and other immigration-related topics. She said Trump’s threat sent “a tremor of fear” across the country.

The Democratic leader reiterated that “families belong together,” and that in the United States everyone has rights that must be respected.

“When I saw the president was going to have these raids, it was so appalling,” she said. “It’s outside the circle of civilized human behavior.”

Pelosi said she spoke to the president about the deportations, and relayed that the threats were causing fear.

“You’re scaring the children of America,” she told Trump, “not just in those families but their neighbors and their communities.”

The speaker noted that she reached out to leaders in the Evangelical and other religious communities, many of whom have been supportive of Trump, to urge them to “weigh in” with the president about the deportations.

She said they may have had some influence on Trump’s decision to delay the proceedings.

“If we all believe in the dignity and worth of every person, that the spark of divinity in every person must be respected, how can we tolerate this kind of behavior?” Pelosi said. “We have to continue to keep that pressure on to remove all doubt that we respect people for their dignity and their worth.”

The discussion on Monday was hosted by Congresswoman Grace Meng, who represents the neighborhood, and immigration advocates, including Steve Choi from the New York Immigration Coalition, Pabitra Benjamin from Adhikaar and Natalia Aristizabal from Make the Road New York.

Earlier this month, Meng noted, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would offer a path of citizenship to 2 million undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and people with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

Choi said while he was “dismayed” about some amendments in the bill, including aspects about gang conduct. He said the legislation is not just a Democratic issue, it’s an issue for everybody.

“This is about the future of America,” he said. “We need to make the economic case for this particular bill, but we also need to make the moral case.”

Pelosi said the key to passing the bill in the Republican-led Senate is public sentiment. She criticized Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying that he would “bury every bill” that came from the House.

“We cannot have that stand,” she said. “I’m saying to him, you may think these are dead, but they’re alive and well among the American people.”

If he doesn’t bring up the bill for a vote, she warned, then “there’s a price to pay.”

The advocates also discussed the upcoming 2020 Census and the proposed citizenship question that is currently being debated in court.

Pelosi urged attendees to participate, even if they feel discouraged by the citizenship question.

“If you don’t sign up, you’re not counted. If you’re not counted, the community is underserved,” she said. “Don’t give them a victory by not signing up. That’s what they want you to do. You will play into their hands.”

According to Choi, every person not counted is about $4,000 in resources lost. It will also mean less political representation, and therefore loss of political power.

“We need to jump over these barriers,” he said. “We need to be in concert and united.”

“We have to look at this as an education or organizing campaign,” added Aristizabal. “We’re going to need everyone.”

Pelosi called the citizenship question “completely and totally wrong.” She said while she doesn’t know how the challenge in court will end up, she said the question has a “terrible agenda with a political motive.”

“They want to affect apportionment,” she said. “They don’t want people of color to count.”

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