Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Thursday said committing status violations as an immigrant or overstaying visas "shouldn't be a crime."
During her weekly press briefing, Pelosi reflected on the drowning of a Salvadoran father and his daughter in the Rio Grande, saying it was one of the "consequences of policy."
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"I had this conversation with my Republican colleagues frequently. It shouldn't be a crime 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 justified that they be sent away," Pelosi said.
She went on to say immigrants who overstay their visas or enter the United States through a route other than the U.S. ports of entry should not be penalized, adding, "Everybody in America has rights."
"We are trying to make people aware of their rights once they are in our country, but you just cannot say—and there's a disagreement that anybody coming across the border is breaking the law," Pelosi said. "Not until there's been a determination as to whether they can stay or not, but just because they are coming across the border, they don't."
Pelosi said all Democrats want to make sure the United States has border security, but said "We don't have to undermine 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."
Earlier this week at a town hall, Pelosi asked "What's the point?" of enforcing immigration within the United States' borders.
"When I saw the president was going to have these raids, it's so appalling, it's outside the realm of civilized human behavior, just kicking down doors and splitting up families in addition to the injustices that are happening at the border," she said. "We have legislation to go forward to address those needs. But in terms of interior enforcement, what's the point?"