VIDEO: Chaos at @NancyPelosi #DACA event as 40+ undocumented hijack her news conf in SF: "We are not your bargaining chip! Let us speak!" pic.twitter.com/KC2WyrjqSy— Doug Sovern (@SovernNation) September 18, 2017
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was shouted down and run out of her own press conference yesterday as a group of young activists took the stage in protest of her support of a bipartisan immigration bill currently making its way through the Senate.
Prior to the protesters showing up, Pelosi described a dinner she had with Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, where they discussed what it would take to get the DREAM Act — which has been kicking around the Senate since 2001 — passed into law. According to the Washington Post, one of the provisions they discussed included "unspecified plans to bolster border security along the U.S.-Mexico border," in exchange for protection for all DACA enrollees—some 800,000 youth and young adults.
The youth, later identified as members of the local activist group RISE, shouted, "We are not your bargaining chip! Let us speak!" Once they were on the stage, they listed their demands for Pelosi, which included a demand that she state her commitment to protecting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. As well, they shared their demand for a "clean bill," referring to the DREAM Act, which was to be discussed at the conference. Later, one of the protesters addressed Pelosi's earlier comments about her dinner with Trump, saying, "First you said you supported a clean Dream Act. And last week you announced that you had agreed and I quote you, ‘To work out a package of border security.’ Your words. Or were you misquoted? We cannot say, however, that we are surprised."
In ceding this point about border security, many feel that the Democratic party has lost touch with the immigrant population they're supposed to be protecting. In a statement to Mother Jones, Itzel Guillen of the Southern Border Communities Coalition said, "It is unconscionable that we would accept any deal that essentially trades our safety for that of the safety of our family members and neighbors. Our communities are already hyper-militarized, with unaccountable border agents patrolling our communities and asking people for their papers at any time and for any reason." Thus, by allowing the administration to strengthen its "border security," Guillen and others are worried that it would also then result in further harassment of people already in-country.
After trying to seize control of the conference by shouting back over the protesters, Pelosi said, "Since you don’t want to listen, we’ll have to just go." She then left the venue, followed by the other House representatives and activists who where scheduled to speak.
Pelosi chased out of her own press conference pic.twitter.com/Afqnzu9woM— Evan Sernoffsky (@EvanSernoffsky) September 18, 2017
Later that day in Sacramento, Pelosi appeared again to discuss the DREAM Act and call for its passage. As the Chronicle reported, in speaking to reporters, she commented that she understands where the activists are coming from, and that she "understands their fear." She then said that the DREAM Act was only a first step in the Democrats' long journey towards immigration reform.
The bitter struggle for proper immigration reform has spanned multiple presidencies, and if the constant stonewalling or wheeling and dealing shown by lawmakers is anything to go by, then more demonstrations and protests like these are almost certainly to be expected going forward. According to the Pew Research Center, about 1.1 million youth are eligible for DACA benefits, but only about 800,000 are officially enrolled. What's clear is the activists' mindfulness regarding those who aren't enrolled, which serves as a great example of unity. What isn't so clear (yet) is whether it will have the effect they're hoping for.
Related: Bay Area Residents React To Trump Killing 'Dreamers' Program, Protests Planned