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Pelosi on St. Patrick's Day: Legalize Illegal Irish Immigrants

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, October 1, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said St. Patrick’s Day should highlight the Irish immigrants in the United States illegally who need a path to legalization.

Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference today that it’s “ironic” House GOP leaders scheduled a vote on a resolution that authorizes Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to file an amicus brief at the Supreme Court against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy.

Pelosi noted that Taoisaeach Enda Kenny “talked about immigration when he was here at the Speaker’s lunch.”

“And what it’s about is all the Irish who are here — 50,000 who are here who can’t even go home for a family funeral because the law would not allow them to come back into the country. They are not here, shall we say, fully documented, and we need to change the law, comprehensive immigration reform. Taoiseach has asked for that over and over again,” she said.

Most of the Irish in the U.S. illegally have overstayed their visas. The majority are nestled among large Irish populations — and some “sanctuary city” areas — in New York City, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco.

Thirty-three Irish were deported in 2014, as compared to 177,000 Mexicans sent home.

After a meeting with Kenny in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Obama said they “had a chance to discuss immigration, an issue that is near and dear to the hearts of the Irish people because they understand how important it’s been for Irish-Americans, and it has given them a sense of compassion and sympathy and understanding about these issues generally.”

“And I indicated to the Taoiseach that we are going to continue to work as hard as we can to find opportunities to make sure that the United States of America continues to be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” Obama said. “And we very much appreciate his insights in this.”

Pelosi called the amicus brief part of Republicans’ “radical anti-immigrant agenda” and slammed the resolution for not telling “the House or the American people what they are planning to say” in the brief.

“Will Republicans yet again call for tearing apart families and deporting DREAMers? Will they yet again suggest a religious test for prospective immigrants? Will they ask the Court to explore ending birthright American citizenship?” she continued. “Sadly, there’s not much difference between Donald Trump and House Republicans when it comes to a record of appalling anti-immigrant statements and an agenda of discrimination.”

Ryan said on the House floor today that normally the brief would be considered by the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

“But I am asking the whole House to go on the record as an institution,” he said. “I recognize that this is an extraordinary step. I feel it is very necessary, though—in fact, I believe this is vital. This is not a question of whether or not we are for or against any certain policy. Members who are making immigration policy arguments are missing the entire point here. This comes down to a much more fundamental question.”

“…Bureaucrats responsible for executing the laws as written are now writing the laws at their whim. This doesn’t just throw our checks and balances off-balance — it creates a fourth branch of government.”

The case is United States v. Texas, with arguments scheduled before the Supreme Court on April 18.

“The Court has asked whether the president’s overreach violates his duty to faithfully execute the laws,” Ryan said. “The House is uniquely qualified — and I would argue, obligated — to respond.”

The resolution passed 234-186, with all Democrats and five Republicans voting nay.