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Pelosi: Immigration Reform Calls for Real Leadership, Not Political Gimmicks

Location: Washington, DC

Pelosi: Immigration Reform Calls for Real Leadership, Not Political Gimmicks

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement in advance of President Bush's speech tonight on immigration:

"Tonight's speech is an opportunity for President Bush to demonstrate the kind of leadership on border security that has so far been sorely lacking.

"Unfortunately, the President's reported solution - a proposal to send thousands of National Guard troops to the border - is unmistakable evidence of the failure over the past five years of the President and Republican Congress to develop a comprehensive immigration policy. This failure continues under the House Republicans, who have refused to fully fund the number of border patrol agents that Congress has authorized, even as Democrats have repeatedly pushed for Congress to fulfill its obligation.

"We must protect our borders, but militarizing our borders is a desperate response by the President to his and Republican Congress' policy failures. This ill-advised proposal would rely on a National Guard that the President tried to reduce in size earlier this year, and which is already stretched thin by repeated deployments to Iraq. It is long past time that we fully fund the border patrol and implement all the 9/11 Commission recommendations, as Democrats have repeatedly proposed.

"Tonight, the President must explicitly embrace the elements of comprehensive immigration reform that are supported on a bipartisan basis by a strong majority of Americans: real border security with expanded border patrol levels, family reunification, strong labor protections for all workers to prevent any exploitation, and a pathway to earned legalization and citizenship with tough requirements of paying fines and back taxes, being employed, and learning English.

"If he is serious about true immigration reform, the President must now disavow the mean-spirited House Republican immigration bill, sponsored by Congressman James Sensenbrenner, which makes felons out of millions of immigrants. Such repudiation is necessary, given the narrow-mindedness of House Republican leaders toward comprehensive immigration reform.

"The time for political gimmicks is over. It is time for real leadership."

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