“These are different laws that we are addressing. One is to address the needs - and we need a supplemental to do that because we have an emergency situation that needs to be addressed,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference Friday.
“Secondly, we are talking about immigration law. What is happening at the border is a case for passing comprehensive immigration reform.”
“These are two separate things. If you want to talk immigration – talk immigration. You want to honor the values of our country in terms of humanitarianism and due process - pass the other bill. There’s no reason why they have to be tied.”
Initially, President Obama made a request for changes to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, saying he wanted the Border Patrol to have more flexibility to send Central American children home. He has since come under criticism from fellow Democrats for that position.
The Wilberforce Act requires unaccompanied minors not originating from Canada or Mexico who are detained by Border Patrol agents to be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS then coordinates care for them and helps advise them on their immigration cases, which are to go before a judge at a future date, before any deportation process could begin.
The White House has requested a $3.7 billion dollar spending package to address the influx of thousands of unaccompanied minors at the border, much of the money for humanitarian needs.
Republican leaders have outlined their own plan to change the 2008 Wilberforce Act, send additional immigration judges to expedite hearings for asylum claims and deploy the National Guard to secure the border.
On July 10, Pelosi said attaching changes to the Wilberforce Act to obtain funding for the president's spending package was “not a deal breaker.”