At 7:04 AM this morning Pacific Time, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi came to the floor to deliver remarks in support of DREAMers who are facing the threat of deportation by the Trump regime in just a few weeks (aided and abetted by Republicans in Congress). Nearly eight hours later, she was still speaking, having set the record for the longest speech in the history of the House.
Unlike the United States Senate, the U.S. House doesn’t have the filibuster, talking or otherwise. Pelosi’s speech is therefore not a filibuster. But it’s certainly something like one. The rules of the House allow Pelosi, as Minority Leader, to speak for as long as she likes. It’s one of the privileges of being the Leader.
Pelosi has taken full advantage of that privilege today, holding the House floor to tell the stories of DREAMers all over the country who could be deported if Congress doesn’t save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
Among the stories that Pelosi read was that of Amy Kele, a student here at the University of Washington in the great Pacific Northwest. Courtesy of Representative Pramila Jayapal’s office, here’s a video clip of Pelosi reading Amy’s story.
Pelosi also read from the New Testament, incorporating a clinic on the Gospel of Matthew into her remarks. As Pelosi noted, among the teachings of Jesus related in the Gospel of Matthew is the commandment that thou shalt love thy neighbor.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’”
Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’”
And the king will say to them in reply: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
— The Gospel of Matthew, 25:31-40
Hour after hour, Pelosi read story after story, all while standing in four-inch heels. The seventy-eight year old Democratic Leader is the first woman to have served as the Speaker of the House in the history of the United States; today, she continues to serve her country as the chamber’s Minority Leader.
Long reviled by Republicans for her effectiveness, Pelosi has largely managed to hold her caucus together despite internal fissures and external pressures.
With Democrats out of power in both houses of Congress and the Senate having just reached a deal to keep the federal government open through the midterms, Pelosi is taking a stand to ensure that DREAMers don’t get left by the wayside as Congress contemplates sending Trump legislation that would appropriate billions more for the military as well as essential public services.
In related news, hundreds of people rallied today in Washington, D.C. in support of immigrant youth and passage of a DREAM Act. Speakers and leaders from the Women’s March, Center for Popular Democracy, Good Jobs Nation, Center for Community Change, and United We Dream participated.
Here’s what these leaders had to say about their action.
Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy:
The fight for the Dream Act is a fight for the soul of this nation. It is a profound moral question to the country: who are we?
Are we a nation that rips families apart and expelling children from the place they call home? Or are we a nation that affirms that we belong together, and that we will take care of each other.
Today, women leaders, health care activists, workers, faith leaders and immigrant families are standing united to reject Trump’s White Nationalist vision for country, and call on Congress to solve the crisis that Trump created for when he ended DACA, upending the lives of 800,000 immigrant youth.
Arlin Tellez Martinez, DACA recipient from North Carolina and UWD leader:
I moved to D.C. from my home in North Carolina to dedicate myself fully to get Congress to pass the Dream Act.
During today’s action, it was clear just how powerful our movement and our community is when hundreds mobilized to fight alongside immigrant youth. I feel empowered to continue to fight even when Congress fails to protect immigrant young people.
We will continue to make our presence seen and heard because our lives are on the line and we cannot keep waiting.
Monica Camacho, a member of CASA who would qualify for the Dream Act:
Punting the DACA decision down the road is a failure of leadership in Congress. We know that the majority of Americans and members of Congress supports a clean DREAM Act NOW, not in a year. For young undocumented people like myself, this is a nightmare. It’s hard to plan for college, for building your family and your career with so much uncertainty. Our lives are on hold so we need a solution right now.
Sara Mora, an organizer for Make the Road New Jersey and potential DREAM Act beneficiary:
Just yesterday, faith and community leaders sat in Rep. Lance’s district office in Westfield, New Jersey and refused to leave until Lance publicly committed to a clean Dream Act. Clean means Trump’s current immigration framework is a nonstarter. Clean means fighting back against plans that will gut our family immigration system. While Trump continues to move the goal post, we need leadership to hold the line and vote with Dreamers and our families.
Linda Sarsour, National Co-Chair of the Women’s March:
To my undocumented brothers and sisters, I want you to know, you are not alone. You tell us where to be, and we will be there. Today, we are here with you to deliver a message to Republicans and Democrats in Congress: we, people of color, are not bargaining chips.
This is not a poker game. These are people’s lives. People who deserve to be here. We’re not asking for favors, we asking for what we deserve!
My vote in November is for undocumented people. For Black people. For poor people. For marginalized people and we will primary every Democrat that did not have spine to stand against the Trump Administration.
If you’re interested in learning more, Buzzfeed has video of the action and arrests. The complete speaking program can be watched on Facebook. And there are still photos on Twitter. See this tweet, this one, and this one.