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Pelosi holds little hope for immigration reform

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:58 p.m. HST, Jun 28, 2014

BROWNSVILLE, Texas >> House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Saturday during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border that she holds little hope that Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.

After visiting a Border Patrol facility in Brownsville holding unaccompanied children, the California Democrat said politics should be set aside to address what President Barack Obama has called an "urgent humanitarian situation." More than 52,000 unaccompanied children, most from Central America, have been apprehended entering the U.S. illegally since October.

"A few days ago I would have been more optimistic about comprehensive immigration reform," Pelosi said. "I thought that we had been finding a way because we have been very patient and respectful of (Speaker of the House John Boehner) trying to do it one way or another. I don't think he gives us much reason to be hopeful now, but we never give up. There's still the month of July."

She did not elaborate on what had dampened her optimism in this midterm election year. Boehner's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Border Patrol in South Texas has been overwhelmed for several months by an influx of unaccompanied children and parents traveling with young children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Unlike Mexican immigrants arrested after entering the U.S. illegally, those from Central America cannot be as easily returned to their countries.

The U.S. had only one family detention center in Pennsylvania, so most adults traveling with young children were released and told to check in with the local immigration office when they arrived at their destination. A new facility for families is being prepared in New Mexico.

Children who traveled alone, like those visited by Pelosi in Brownsville, are handled differently. By law, they must be transferred to the custody of the Health and Human Services Department within 72 hours of their arrest. From there, they are sent into a network of shelters until they can be reunited with family members while awaiting their day in immigration court.

On Saturday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said up to 2,000 unaccompanied immigrant children could be transferred from overcrowded facilities in McAllen to his county by the end of next month. He said the plan is to have youngsters spend about three weeks in Dallas County before hopefully being placed with relatives who are elsewhere in the U.S. The federal government will cover the costs, Jenkins said.

"This is not a commentary on the immigration debate," Jenkins said on the sidelines of the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas. "This is about scared and lonely children who are trapped in not good conditions on the border, and what we can do in this county to be a part of the solution."

Jenkins said that one temporary housing facility was already being prepared and that officials were searching for two others that would be ready by late July. Gov. Rick Perry had been briefed on the plan, said Jenkins, who added he hopes the state will search for more housing options in other parts of Texas.

Pelosi said immigrants' cases should be handled on a case-by-case basis. "We don't want our good nature abused by those who would misrepresent what's happening in the United States on the subject of immigration to affect how we deal with a refugee problem."

Republicans have criticized Obama's immigration policies, arguing that they've left the impression that women and children from Central America will be allowed to stay in the United States. The administration has worked to send a clear message in recent weeks that new arrivals will be targeted for deportation. But immigrants arriving from those countries say they are fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty.

The situation is drawing attention and politicians from both parties to South Texas. While Pelosi was speaking in Brownsville, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, appeared with the first lady of Honduras, Ana Garcia de Hernandez, in McAllen.

Next week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman and Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte is scheduled to lead members of that panel to the Rio Grande Valley and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, is scheduled to hold a field hearing Thursday in McAllen.

Pelosi said she came to Brownsville at the invitation of local U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela to find out what Congress can do to help.

"The fact is these are children, children and families," Pelosi said. "We have a moral responsibility to address this in a dignified way."


Associated Press writer Will Weissert in Dallas contributed to this report.

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lee1957 wrote:
We don't need immigration reform, we need illegal immigration reform.
on June 28,2014 | 03:00PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Shouldn't the last word in your post be reformatory?
on June 28,2014 | 03:10PM
Pocho wrote:
The US can't even take care of it's thousands upon thousands of homeless people and that's not even speaking of the VA problems of taking of our own. There's now money, the US is in debt by the trillions. Pelosi should give up her wealth! to fund all these kids.
on June 28,2014 | 03:36PM
Grimbold wrote:
Out with the law-breaking invaders!
on June 28,2014 | 08:36PM
FluidMotion wrote:
agreed lee. A like button would have been so much easier.
on June 29,2014 | 04:22AM
Pocho wrote:
Pelosi is out of touch with the people already in the US that lives below the proverty level that's trying to make a go. Now, who's gonna take care of the 52,000 illegal kids she's wanting to Naturalize? This is CRAZY! Is she wanting their parents to migrate here to watch their own kids?
on June 28,2014 | 03:31PM
Grimbold wrote:
We are drowning in an ocean of illegal immigrants. The country will become like the bad countries to the south.
on June 28,2014 | 09:18PM
calentura wrote:
It is the President's job to enforce the laws of the nation, including border control. If the President abdicates that duty, he/she should resign or be impeached. Why is Pelosi blaming Boehner? He is not President.
on June 28,2014 | 05:17PM
Grimbold wrote:
The President is betraying his country for obstructing law enforcement and coddle illegal immigrants.
on June 28,2014 | 08:38PM
9ronboz wrote:
Obama wants $2 billion for this mess! Pelosi is brain dead.
on June 28,2014 | 08:58PM
Grimbold wrote:
Pelosi is a traitor.
on June 28,2014 | 09:19PM
cojef wrote:
A good mouthpiece for Obama. Both speak from the side of their mouths.
on June 29,2014 | 10:48AM
Gonzalez wrote:
We can't even take care of our "vets" who EARNED a few "benifits" for serving this country, - But we can take care of all these immigrents crossing our borders -- This country needs to "grow a pair" - and enforce the laws allready on the books.. And you liberals, give me a break... You would not know real hardship if it bit you in the a--.
on June 29,2014 | 06:47AM
cojef wrote:
The blame game has begun after the President help create the chaos by his liberal executive prerogatives relating to enforcement of immigration laws.
on June 29,2014 | 10:44AM
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