A group of angry young immigrants chanting "all of us or none of us" shut down a news conference by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who was on her home turf in San Francisco on Monday to try to drum up support for legislation that would allow immigrants illegally brought to this country by their parents to stay in the U.S.
Pelosi, who was joined by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Jared Huffman, D-Calif., was wrapping up her remarks on efforts to win passage of the Dream Act. The measure would protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of so-called immigrants who have been dubbed DREAMers after previous legislation that never passed.
The protesters, who described themselves as undocumented youth, were denouncing Pelosi's tentative agreement with President Trump to work together on passage of some form of relief for immigrant youth.
Chanting "we are not a bargaining chip," the protesters upstaged Pelosi and her fellow Democrats. The confrontation went on for about 30 minutes, according to one published report. The chant was an apparent reference to reports that the Democrats might agree to Trump's demands for enhanced border security and other measures in exchange for an agreement to protect the estimated 800,000 recipients of the Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
DACA recipients and their supporters have been pressing for what they call "a clean Dream Act," meaning protections without conditions.
In early September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration would end DACA, but not before giving Congress six months to come up with a plan to make the program permanent. Shortly afterwards, Trump surprised nearly everyone by saying that if Congress didn't "legalize DACA," then he would "revisit the issue." Then came an announcement from Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Shumer of New York that they had discussed a deal with Trump.
"We made it clear that we cannot have any trust and conversation unless we address the Dream Act passed," Pelosi reported at her news conference. But the protesters weren't swayed, demanding that Pelosi work to protect "all 11 million" people in this country illegally.
Pelosi and her fellow Democrats left the news conference.
"This group today is saying don't do the DREAM Act unless you do comprehensive immigration reform. Well we all want to do comprehensive immigration reform. ... I understand their frustration — I'm excited by it as a matter of fact — but the fact is, they're completely wrong, " she said as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle.
The paper, citing Pelosi aides, reported that the protest was staged by the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. Spokespeople for the group were not available for comment, but the group's website featured tweets publicizing the protest.