Nancy Pelosi: ‘When the Italians Were Here, They Were Called WOPs. And You Know What That Means?’

By Staff | March 21, 2019 | 3:09 PM EDT

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( - At a press conference in New York City promoting the American Dream and Promise Act, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said on Wednesday that when Italians immigrated to the United States “they were called WOPs” which meant “without papers.”

“When the mayor talked about our Italian-American heritage—I always--people make a fuss that I am the first woman speaker but I am the first Italian-American Speaker and that means a lot to me as well,” said Pelosi.

“But when people came here and they were in these tenements, they were Irish, they were German, they were Italian, they were Jewish--the list goes on--they were Chinese and others that came after,” she said.

“But when the Italians were here, they were called WOPs, WOPS,” she said. “And you know what that means? Without papers. And that’s all we are talking about right now. People who are without papers. So we would hope that all of those who then got their papers would be there to help others get theirs.”

The American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) is designed to grant a pathway to citizenship to some individuals who do not currently have a legal immigration status in the United States.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D.-Ill.) has summarized what it would do in a statement posted on his congressional website.

“H.R. 6 provides a pathway to citizenship for eligible Dreamers who entered the U.S. under the age of 18 and who were continuously present in the U.S. for 4 years prior to the date of the bill’s enactment,” says Rush’s statement. “Dreamers would be provided conditional permanent resident status and would need to complete an education, employment, or military track to adjust to permanent resident status.”

“In addition, the Dream and Promise Act would secure permanent residency for people with TPS [Temporary Protected Status] and DED [Deferred Enforced Departure],” says the statement. “After 5 years, those permanent residents would be eligible to apply to become citizens. On average, TPS recipients have lived in the United States for 20 years, building a new life for themselves and their families. Similarly, DED recipients have lived in the United States and contributed to their communities since 2007.”

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