House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
on Friday said that farmers in Florida need illegal immigrants "to pick the crops" as she called for "comprehensive immigration reform" and said there was a shortage of workers in the U.S.
Pelosi was asked about whether the southern border is secure, and responded by saying that while "we have a responsibility to secure our border, we also have a responsibility to recognize the importance of newcomers to our nation."
"Right now, the best thing that we can do for our economy is comprehensive immigration reform," she said. Democratic proposals for such reform typically include sweeping amnesties for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
Pelosi then pressed her economic argument and made reference to recent moves by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican governors to move illegal immigrants
north to places like Martha’s Vineyard, New York City and Washington, D.C.
"We have a shortage of workers in our country, and you see even in Florida, some of the farmers and the growers saying, 'Why are you shipping these immigrants up North? We need them to pick the crops down here,'" she said.
Pelosi’s remarks come as the U.S. remains in the throes of a historic border crisis which has seen more than 2.1 million migrant encounters this fiscal year, and more than 200,000 migrant encounters in August alone. It is the ongoing nature of the crisis that has led Republican governors to bus and fly migrants further north. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bussed more than 10,000 migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago, while DeSantis sparked outrage
from Democrats when his office flew about 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard.
Republicans have blamed Biden administration policies, as well as incentives offered by "sanctuary" cities, for fueling the crisis. Democrats and the Biden administration have blamed the Trump administration for rolling back legal asylum pathways, and have used the crisis to renew their calls for a pathway to citizenship for millions already in the country illegally.
Vice President Kamala Harris
recently claimed the border is "secure" while also calling for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
"I think that there is no question that we have to do what the president and I asked Congress to do, the first request we made: pass a bill to create a pathway to citizenship," Harris said on "Meet the Press" this month
. "The border is secure, but we also have a broken immigration system, in particular, over the last four years before we came in, and it needs to be fixed."
It wasn’t a statement that Pelosi appeared to be ready to endorse on Friday.
"I believe that we have to have a secure border. And I think that we are trying to address… the president has a plan to address that," she said.