House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has claimed that if it were only Irish people who were illegal then Republicans would have passed immigration reform.
"I think race has something to do with the fact that they're not bringing up an immigration bill," she said at her weekly press conference. "I've heard them say to the Irish, 'If it were just you, this would be easy.'"
Her comments and her claim about what she has heard GOP members say have alarmed the Irish lobby groups, who have made it clear they are in lockstep on comprehensive reform with other groups.
”This is a disgraceful comment by the House Minority leader,” said Ciaran Staunton, President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. “We just did a major lobbying effort with Republicans on Capitol Hill and not one of them ever expressed such a sentiment. This is almost race baiting.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has stalled a vote on an immigration.
Pelosi said she believes the bill would pass if only the Speaker allowed a vote.
"Let's have a debate," she said. "We think the votes are there. We're absolutely certain that they're there."
However, her comments on Irish undocumented are bound to cause controversy within the Irish American community. “We do not need that kind of rhetoric, dividing groups on this issue,” said Staunton, “The congresswoman should know better.”