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Pelosi: Immigration Delay Could Mean Stronger Year-end Action

Image: Nancy Pelosi

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Democratic leaders, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, as the House tries to deal with legislation on the border crisis, a day after Congress was supposed to go into its August recess. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Monday she wanted President Barack Obama to do something sooner on immigration, but she said the longer wait for executive action this year means the better the action will be.

Pelosi said she’s “respectful of the disappointment” felt in the Latino community about Obama’s postponement on the action and acknowledged that the community expects action.

But “he said he’s going to do it better and that’s what I’m optimistic about,” Pelosi said. She said her expectations are "very high" and that she's "absolutely certain" the president will do what he can by the end of the year.

“What he said was he wanted to do it right and so I think doing right means doing as much as possible,” she said.

“They speak in this election, they will see results from the Republicans. But if they sit home, they won’t." _ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Latino voters.

The president's decision to delay was met with an outcry of criticism from Latino and immigration groups and some have questioned whether Latinos who have been voting strongly Democrat should question their support for the party. The debate has led to some division in the community.

Pelosi said Latinos have much to gain and a lot to lose if they express their anger over the delay by not voting.

“They speak in this election, they will see results from the Republicans. But if they sit home, they won’t. The Republicans will say, 'we had no price to pay for our negligent policy toward immigrants' - not only negligent, negative,” Pelosi said, referring to measures the House passed before leaving for summer recess.

Those bills, which were largely supported by Republicans, sped up deportations in response to the surge of children who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border earlier in the spring and summer, provided some emergency funding for dealing with the children and voted to prevent Obama from granting deportation deferrals to some immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Pelosi spoke to NBC News by phone from Salt Lake City where she delivered a speech at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce convention. The chamber gave her its Excellence in Leadership award, the first time it has given the award to a non-Hispanic.

In the speech, Pelosi praised Hispanic entrepreneurship and in particular that of Latinas.

“Even against the phenomenal growth and success of Latino-owned businesses in America, Latina entrepreneurs are in a class of your own: starting up companies at six times the national average,” she said.

“We feel very confident about our message for women,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Women are a critical part of Democrats’ midterm election effort, which Pelosi described as “when women succeed, America succeeds.” Democrats have held the lead over Republicans for their vote, but a recent NBC/WSJ poll showed that gap narrowing.

“We feel very confident about our message for women,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi dismissed the poll results, saying “it only matters who you get out to vote."

The issues that Democrats are focused on - raising minimum wage, equal pay, paid sick leave and affordable quality child care - are key for all women, but resonate also with Latinas hoping to start businesses and the rest of the Hispanic community, she said.

“Yes, we want people to vote, so whomever they vote for is held accountable for unleashing the power of women,” Pelosi said. “This is not going to end with the election no matter how the election turns out because we have to keep at it.” The same is true for immigration reform, she said.