Pelosi Leans on 'Great' Reagan, Bush for Immigration Arguments

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington on June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) implored Republicans to think like President Reagan on immigration reform, both at her weekly news conference and in a speech on the House floor.

“Democrats want open Borders, where anyone can come into our Country, and stay. This is Nancy Pelosi’s dream. It won’t happen!” President Trump tweeted today.

Pelosi told reporters, “If he only knew what my dream was.”

“The Democrats have taken full responsibility for securing our borders. We know that is a responsibility that we have. But we don’t think that we have to put children in cages to do it. There is a better way. And the president is either not knowing, not caring, delusional, in denial about his own policies being outside the circle of civilized human behavior,” she said.

Pelosi said she picked Ronald Reagan as the focus of her floor speech to show “how great he was in recognizing the value of newcomers to America and how that made America great.”

“Every president in, probably, your lifetimes — Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama — all of them were respectful of people, respectful of people, recognizing their dignity and worth,” she continued. “This is the first president who has departed from that. Come to the floor and hear what I have to say about what Ronald Reagan had to say in his last speech as president of the United States.”

Reagan said in his farewell address to the nation, in which he encouraged “informed patriotism,” “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

The House Democratic leader highlighted Reagan’s remarks at a Presidential Medal of Freedom presentation just before he left office, in which he said “it’s the great life force of each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed into the next century and beyond.”

Pelosi further lauded George W. Bush as “great on immigration, you know — it was in his heart, it was in his head. He respected people. From Texas — he understands.”

“When I mention Ronald Reagan — when Ronald Reagan was — when Obama — President Obama did DACA, he protected a certain percentage of people because Congress did not act,” she continued. “When Ronald Reagan was president, Congress acted — in 1986, before I was here. He acted in 1986, and he said Congress did not go far enough. So he instituted his Family Fairness Initiative, and he and President George Herbert Walker Bush protected a higher percentage of people than President Obama did with DACA.”

Pelosi was asked whether she would have pushed a more comprehensive immigration plan during her four years as speaker if she could do it all over.

“We passed the DREAM Act in the House. We passed the DREAM Act, yes, and — but we couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate, and it was hard. It was hard,” she replied. “But — we got over 50, but we couldn’t get to 60.”