Pelosi argues sneaking into the US shouldn’t be a crime, goes further to include visa violations

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think it should be a crime for immigrants to overstay their visas or commit status violations.

The California Democrat told reporters at her weekly press conference that immigrants attempting to cross the U.S. border through ways other than the designated U.S. ports of entry should not face charges. She went further by asserting that violations of visa status should also not be considered a crime.

Pelosi spoke on the tragic death of a father and his daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande after attempting to cross into the U.S. from Mexico, calling the incident one of the “consequences of policy.” The heartbreaking photo of the man from El Salvador and his two-year-old child sparked a fresh round of debate and criticism of the Trump administration.

Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls slammed President Trump personally, with some even blaming him for the deaths.

“I had this conversation with my Republican colleagues frequently. It shouldn’t be a crime to have a status violation. If somebody commits a crime or is guilty of a crime and they’re in our country, prosecutorial discretion would warrant that they—or justified that they be sent away,” Pelosi said Thursday.

“If you overstay your visa or if you’re coming in as this family would have been coming in, but they have narrowed the number of people coming in through the ports of entry, so they were coming in not through the ports of entry,” she said, referring to the policy of “metering.”

The policy, which places asylum-seekers in a queue to apply, was implemented by former President Barack Obama in 2016 and has seen some immigrants tired of waiting for asylum attempt to enter the U.S. outside the legal ports of entry. However, family members of the deceased father and child indicated that there was no immediate danger the family was in when leaving their home country to have a request for asylum, according to a New York Times report.

“Weigh the equities, we’re talking about human lives,” Pelosi told reporters, echoing remarks she made earlier this week when speaking on Trump’s plan to deport illegal immigrants who had overstayed their visas or committed status violations.

“So, that is really kind of what happened. [Trump] didn’t say what he was going to do but, as the president said, ‘oh, I’ll let you know, I’ll let you know.’ [He] went into — ‘well, people broke the laws.’ A violation of status is not a reason for deportation. That’s just not so,” she said Monday.

“Everybody in America has rights,” she asserted Thursday.

“We are trying to make people aware of their rights once they are in our country, but you just cannot say—and there’s a disagreement that anybody coming across the border is breaking the law,” Pelosi said. “Not until there’s been a determination as to whether they can stay or not, but just because they are coming across the border, they don’t.”

“We don’t have to undermine who we are as a country by saying it’s a crime to engage in an internationally recognized opportunity to make your case to come into a country, any country,” she added.

Frieda Powers

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