By Hazel Trice Edney
Pelosi, known for her fiery remarks, was perhaps at her most passionate last week in the midst of public and legislative debate concerning the “DREAMers” and following Trump’s “S***hole” description of El Salvador, Haiti and African countries while expressing the desire to bring more people from Poland, which is vastly White.
“The Administration’s anti-immigrant framework is an act of staggering cowardice which attempts to hold the DREAMers hostage to a hateful anti-immigrant scheme,” she said in a statement released to the media. She also made the statements verbally. “The 50 percent cut to legal immigration in the framework and the recent announcements to end Temporary Protected Status for Central Americans and Haitians are both part of the same cruel agenda. They are part of the Trump Administration’s unmistakable campaign to make America White again.”
The description underscored the level of political acrimony in Washington as the nation prepared to hear Trump’s first State of the Union Address. It was speculated that he would speak of unity – which he did at his inauguration. But those words were quickly undermined by hateful remarks, including his equating White supremacist Neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan marchers to people protesting them in Charlottesville last August.
The context of Pelosi’s remarks were in response to debate over whether Trump would support the DREAMers.
The word “DREAMers” is an acronym that stands for “The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act”. It was first introduced in 2001 as a bipartisan bill in the Senate. The goal was to open opportunities for undocumented immigrants brought to the U. S. illegally as children to have a pathway to permanent legal status as long as they – in a nutshell – go to college, remain in the U.S. for a certain number of years; have good moral character; and not have violated other immigration laws.
Individuals who would have qualified under the DREAM Act are often referred to as “DREAMers.” The term has been used to define individuals in the U.S. who were brought to the country at an early age without documentation but have assimilated to U.S. culture and have been educated by U.S. school systems.
Because the DREAM Act never passed, a substitute program was established in 2012 by Homeland Security under President Barack Obama. It is called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and is often viewed as synonymous with the DREAM Act since it is meant to provide relief for the Dreamers until legislation is passed.
“It is often said that America is great because America is good. We are a great country that has been blessed and reinvigorated with the faith and family values of generations of immigrants,” Pelosi said. “That is why so many faith leaders, even those who support the President, have recognized that immigration strengthens our families, our churches and our communities. The DREAMers will not be ransomed for a hateful agenda that betrays our sacred American values.”
The debate over the President’s apparent “White only” perspective continued this week as members of the Congressional Black Caucus announced various ways that they would protest his perceived agenda, including boycotts of Trump’s first State of the Union Address.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-New York) and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) have announced they will boycott the State of the Union.
Wilson said in a CNN interview, “to go would be to honor the President and I don’t think he deserves to be honored at this time, after being so hateful towards Black people and then black countries, Haiti and the whole continent of Africa.”