House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has shifted her stance on amending a law to make it easier for the U.S. to deport minors, now saying she opposes such a change because it would deprive the children of due process.
Last week, President Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help confront the unprecedented influx of children and teenagers, many of them from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, arriving at the Southwestern border without parents.
Republicans said they would not approve the funding unless Democrats agreed to change a law so most of those minors can be swiftly deported -- as the White House proposed last month.
Under the 2008 anti-trafficking law, children from all nations except Mexico and Canada are guaranteed a judicial hearing once they are apprehended in the United States. Most are placed with sponsors for years as their cases wind through the courts.
Senior Democrats showed little willingness to amend the law, but Pelosi told reporters last week that changing it is "not a deal breaker."
"What's important is to get the supplemental" funding, she said. "What price we have to pay to do that, we'll see in the course of the debate. But I would — I would have hoped that they would not have made that change."
She has since backed off from that stance.
"Leader Pelosi opposes this legislation as it is not in furtherance of due process for these children," spokesman Drew Hammill told the Los Angeles Times in an email Wednesday. "We should change the law to treat Mexican children the same as we now treat children from Central America. But if any changes to the 2008 law are made, they must ensure due process for these children."