Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in San Francisco she was optimistic that Congress could soon pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Speaking after a roundtable discussion with labor, faith and immigration advocacy groups in San Francisco today, Pelosi said the legislation was a statement of national values, including respect for the dignity of the individual.
"These people who come here with their hopes, dreams and aspirations to make a better life for their families, they make America more American," Pelosi said. "We are, by and large, a nation of immigrants," Pelosi added.
Those meeting with Pelosi Friday included advocates who told tales of families separated by deportation and individuals who lost jobs due to checks on their immigration status.
Putri Siti, who spoke for Asian Students Promoting Immigration Rights Through Education, said she came to the United States from Indonesia with her family when she was 11.
Her family learned that their petition to change their immigration status was denied when she was in her first year of college, but was able to successfully fight to stop their deportation through a public campaign.
"Not everyone is so lucky," Siti said, calling for a "clear and direct path to citizenship." We have enough families being hurt, being torn apart, because of this broken immigration system." Pelosi acknowledged she was not entirely happy with every aspect of current proposals, including limits on family reunification and a deal with Republicans announced Thursday that would require an increase in border security.
But she took a pragmatic tone, saying they were probably necessary tradeoffs. "I'm not madly in love with any of these bills but we have to make some progress," she said.