1. SOUNDBITE (English) Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:
"We are making a very big difference in how we respect the beautiful diversity of America, how we respect the fact that immigration is that constant reinvigoration of America."
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2. SOUNDBITE (English) Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:
"Ronald Reagan said 'if we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would be lost.' And it's always been a pleasure for me to sing the praises of our dreamers. They make us so proud, they have in so many ways, as the distinguished chair has indicated. So, for us, this is a day of not only passing legislation, but a cause for celebration."
"I am truly thrilled that today the House will take a major step in ending the veil of fear and uncertainty that has plagued the lives of our 'dreamers' for far too long. As our nation has battled the COVID-19 pandemic, 202,500 DACA recipients have risked their lives as essential workers."
"This bill is a compromise. It's a bipartisan compromise. It's a compromise between farmers and farm workers. It's something I hope that will pass with bipartisan support. If it does, America will be stronger than it is today."
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5. SOUNDBITE (English) Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) New York:
"Two bills we will pass today recognize that America is stronger when we welcome people to our shores later this afternoon, the House will send a clear message that we believe in a just rational and humane immigration system. I hope that our Senate colleagues will hear us on the other side of the Capitol and will take similar action."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and democratic lawmakers speak on Capitol Hill as they seemed poised to claim victory Thursday in the House's first votes this year on immigration but moving legislation on the divisive issue all the way through Congress is an uphill fight.
With the blessing of President Joe Biden, the House is set to vote on the Dream and Promise Act clearing a path for over 2 million young "Dreamer" immigrants and others to gain legal status and a chance for citizenship.
A second measure, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would do the same for around 1 million immigrant farm workers. Both seemed certain to pass.
A sponsor of the American Dream and Promise Act, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat from California, said "I am truly thrilled that today the House will take a major step in ending the veil of fear and uncertainty that has plagued the lives of our dreamers for far too long."
"We are making a very big difference in how we respect the beautiful diversity of America, how we respect the fact that immigration is that constant reinvigoration of America," Speaker Pelosi said.
"This is a day of not only passing legislation, but a cause for celebration," she added.
White House statements endorsing both measures noted that many immigrants in the U.S. illegally have been essential workers during the pandemic. It said approving the legislation would "deliver much needed economic security and stability to millions of people who currently face perpetual uncertainty and vulnerability."
But party divisions and solid Republican opposition mean pushing legislation on the issue through the Senate remains difficult, especially for Biden's goal of a sweeping measure helping all 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally become citizens.
The partisan battle shows little promise of easing before next year's elections, when Republicans could use it in their effort to regain House and Senate control.
Work on the legislation comes as the number of migrants attempting to cross the border has been growing since April, with the 100,441 reported last month the highest level since March 2019. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday that figure is on track to reach a 20-year high.
Scores of groups supporting the bills include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Among those arrayed in opposition is the conservative Heritage Action for America.
GOP lawmakers have been singularly focused on the growing wave of migrants, including children, trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico and blaming Biden administration policies for it.
Though neither House bill would affect those trying to cross the boundary, top Republicans were urging rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose both measures.