WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that comprehensive citizenship for illegal aliens is not something that can or should be blocked by the United States.

Making a weaving string of comments on immigration reform at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation economic summit in Washington, the California Democrat said that “as a country, we cannot, let me say, we cannot prohibit a path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants.

“I don’t think we as a country want to be a country that says, ‘You can do our work, but you can’t have the rights of a citizen in our country,’” said Pelosi. “It’s more about who we are as a nation.”

She added that many illegal aliens simply want to be “relieved of deportation” as a threat to their current jobs and family lives already in the U.S.

Pelosi has joined the bipartisan effort pushing for immigration reform, with Pelosi stressing that it must be a comprehensive overhaul.

“It has to be comprehensive immigration reform,” Pelosi said. “Now, the Senate bill is not a bill that I embrace lovingly, however, it’s bipartisan. It passed the Senate,” she added to some laughter from the audience.

“It’s something that could be signed into law immediately, and I’ve urged the speaker to take up that bill,” Pelosi said, referring to S. 744 — the Border Security and Immigration Modernization Act which cleared that body in June 2013 – and has been directed to House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

This comes following President Barack Obama’s Tuesday comments, also making a case for immigration reform, in which he urged the country’s top law enforcement officials to join the push for a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants.

Obama stressed that the move would allow authorities to focus on violent criminals and gangs instead of aliens forced to work in a “shadow economy,” and away from official documentation that could give law enforcement “a better idea of who’s in the country.”

Obama stated that the current system “makes it harder” for law enforcement to do their jobs, reiterating that most illegal immigrants “are not making trouble,” and “are not causing crimes.”

But the president’s immigration pitch comes in the wake of this week’s reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials released 36,007 individuals representing a total of nearly 88,000 convictions. The Center for Immigration Studies report listed individuals facing 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions and more than 16,000 drunk or drugged driving convictions.

The report states that a majority of the releases were discretionary, and not required by law.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, called this week’s data representing criminal aliens “shocking,” in a statement attached to the findings.


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