Calling America “part of a global society,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended laws that allow illegal immigrants to seek asylum in the US — but added that she could back a change in policy that would have more migrants make the request from their own countries.
“Asylum laws are what they are. It’s important for people to understand what they are. We’re part of a global society, and when someone comes to a country seeking asylum, they are not breaking the law coming into the country,” she told reporters during her weekly news conference at the Capitol.
“And they have to prove their case, that they have a well-founded fear of persecution,” she continued before offering an apparent olive branch to President Trump, who has demanded that asylum and immigration laws be rewritten.
“There are some initiatives that suggest that some review of asylum seekers’ status could be done in [their] country instead of traveling here, and that’s one thing that I think would be appealing to the administration,” she said.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean you change the law. You just have to allocate resources to do it. In terms of comprehensive [reform], I think there’s real need for it,” Pelosi added, before scoffing at Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the immigration laws could be rewritten in just 14 days.
“It’s not something you can do in two weeks,” she said.
The California Democrat also said she would appeal to evangelicals to persuade Trump to order more humane policies for children and others being detained at the border.
“I’m going to appeal to the people of faith, the faith-based organizations to appeal to the president. They put him in office and they have a better voice for this,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, she added, didn’t seem interested in the detained children’s plight when faith-based groups made a recent case for the kids, she asserted.
“They were given the short shift by Mitch McConnell. It was just like he wasn’t interested in their appeals as to what would be needed,” she said.
Her comments came as a nationwide immigration enforcement operation targeting people who are in the US illegally was expected to begin this weekend after it was postponed last month by Trump.
The operation, which is sparking outrage and concern among immigrant advocates, would target people with final orders of removal, including families whose immigration cases had been fast-tracked by judges in 10 major cities.
Trump announced last month that the sweep would mark the beginning of an effort to deport millions of people who are in the country illegally.
Then he abruptly canceled it after a phone call with Pelosi, while lawmakers worked to pass a $4.6 billion, bi-partisan border aid package.