As the Trump administration is set to unveil its latest iteration of immigration reform, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed the proposal for more merit-based immigration as "condescending" and signaled that Democrats would not support legislation that does not include a pathway to citizenship.
that the president's proposal aims to alter the composition of incoming legal immigrants, with a focus on increasing the share of highly skilled immigrants. The plan also calls for improving physical border security.
"They say family is without merit -- are they saying most of the people that come to the United States in the history of our country are without merit, because they don't have an engineering degree," Pelosi asked rhetorically at her weekly press conference.
She scoffed at the idea of "merit" as a policy description. Rather, she said, it's "non-merit -- it means merit in the eyes of Donald Trump."
The plan, which currently does not add protections to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, is expected to draw little support from Democrats who have railed against the administration's lack of support for so-called DREAMers, who were brought to the U.S. as children by undocumented parents.
Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that Democrats have yet to receive a formal briefing on the administration's plan, but said she believes both Democrats and Republicans have to come to "comprehensive immigration reform, and I think the president knows that."
She said any legislation would need to secure the southern border while also respecting the "values of family." Pelosi admonished the administration's previous immigration policies, including the "zero-tolerance" family separation policy as "undermining our humanitarianism as a country." She noted, however, that she would give Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt on not including DACA protections in his immigration plan, pointing to past support for action.
"We will hopefully work together in a bipartisan way to address this," she added.
Pelosi also addressed the near-total abortion ban passed by Alabama state lawmakers, calling it a "heartbreaking and unconstitutional assault on basic reproductive freedoms." While Democratic lawmakers have widely condemned the measure, signed into law by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday, Pelosi said she fears the move signals further Republican-led efforts to limit women's access to health care.
"I don't want to be a fear monger, but I do believe that they are trying to go on a path that would totally to dismantle Roe v. Wade," Pelosi said, "and we have to be vigilant and express our concerns on this."