By Keith Laing - 05/24/14 03:46 PM EDT
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Saturday that lawmakers should approve immigration reform legislation this year because welcoming newcomers to the United States is part of the “essential character of our country.”
The comments came while Pelosi was delivering a graduation speech at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
The former House Speaker told the university’s 2014 graduates that immigrants provided a “boost to our economy” and brought “invigoration and imagination of newcomers” to the U.S.
Pelosi said she hoped the Bard College graduates would work on other areas that are Democratic priorities such as women’s and gay rights in their professional careers.
“In the United States, the middle class is the backbone of our democracy,” the California Democrat said. “So let’s build ladders of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, take responsibility, and play by the rules – to achieve the American Dream and strengthen the middle class.
“To do even more, we must unleash the power of women in our economy – because, as President Obama has reminded us, when women succeed, America succeeds,” Pelosi continued. “To make real progress, we must reduce the role of money and increase the level of civility in our politics. Then we will elect more young people, more women, more minorities, more LGBT Americans – and all Americans will be better for it.”
Pelosi was honored with a Doctor of Laws degrees by the college.