(CNSNews.com) - The Speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday said it shouldn't be a crime to cross into the United States illegally.
"It shouldn’t be a crime to have a visa -– 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 justify that they be sent away," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a news conference.
"But you just cannot say -- and there’s a disagreement -- that anybody coming across the border is breaking the law. Not until there’s been a determination as to whether they can stay or not. But just because they’re coming across the border, they don’t."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) volunteered her opinion, when a reporter asked her about the photograph of a man who drowned with his little girl at the U.S.-Mexican border.
"What was your immediate reaction when you saw that photo and who do you hold responsible for it? Is there anybody to blame for that?" a reporter asked Pelosi.
Here is her full answer:
Can you just imagine: the father put the little girl on the shore to go back to get the mother and the little girl wanted to be with her father, and she got back in. And then he couldn’t – he couldn’t save her, and then he couldn’t save himself. This is such a tragedy.
I think it’s not a question of blame. It’s a question of being prayerful and understand the consequences of policy. I’m sure that nobody who decided to have a policy would say, ‘And I don’t care if something like this happens,’ but it does happen.
And I’ve visited the border so many times over the years, not just in recent years. The Rio Grande has a personality. This is not just a little river that you swim across. It has its moments. So, I can just imagine how that happened, and I just think it’s such a shame for that to be the face of America around the world.
So, let’s just step back from it, from a policy standpoint. This is one of those metered situations where people who have -- who come to our country and want to be admitted have to meet certain standards. That’s the way it is.
But it isn’t -- I have this conversation with my Republican colleagues frequently. It shouldn’t be a crime to have a visa – 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 justify, that they be sent away.
So, nobody’s saying if people are -- but if you overstay your visa, or you’re coming in, as this family would have been coming in, but they had narrowed the number of people coming in through the ports of entry, so they were coming in not through the ports. And, that’s not unusual. You know, I’ve seen -- I’ve physically seen that happen there.
And, again, enlarge the issue, weigh the equities. We’re talking about human lives. And let’s just subject people to the laws. But we also have to recognize that everybody in America has rights. Everybody in America has rights. And we’re trying to make people aware of their rights once they’re in our country.
But you just cannot say -- and there’s a disagreement -- that anybody coming across the border is breaking the law. Not until there’s been a determination as to whether they can stay or not. But just because they’re coming across the border, they don’t.
Now, we all want to have border security and do what we need to do, protect our borders -- North, South, East, West, Gulf Coast, whatever – we have to do that. But we don’t have to undermine our -- 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. Any country.