Racial attitudes among Republicans in the House of Representatives are a reason why they haven’t passed an immigration reform bill, the House’s top Democrat Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.
"I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill," she said at her weekly news conference. "I’ve heard them say to the Irish: 'If it were just you, this would be easy.'"
Policymakers have in the past suggested that racial prejudice towards immigrants fuels some opponents of immigration reform. But Pelosi’s comments underscore the frustration among reform supporters that there’s almost no chance of a bill passing Congress before November’s midterm election.
While Pelosi cited racism as a reason behind the gridlock, Republican supporters of immigration reform blamed her for not pushing harder to pass a bill when Democrats controlled the House.
“As the old Spanish saying goes, ‘piensa el ladrón que todos son de su condición,’” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said in a statement.
[Translation: “The thief thinks that everyone (else) is of (his own) condition.”]
With the push for an immigration bill stalled in the House and no resolution in sight, Pelosi has amped up her rhetoric on the issue.
She said in an interview with Politico this week she would rather see an overhaul pass Congress than reclaim the Speaker’s gavel. And she endorsed a proposal from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which demands that the Obama administration halt deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants who would qualify for legalization under a Senate-passed immigration bill.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.