GUTIÉRREZ: TODAY WE SACRIFICE OUR FREEDOM TO WIN FREEDOM FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NONE

Oct 8, 2013 Issues: Immigration

 

"Those of us who have the piece of paper and peace of mind that ensures our return home tonight to our families must fight for those who do not have that piece of paper or that piece of mind "

 

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke at the Camino Americano: Rally and March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect on the National Mall calling on Congress, and particularly Republican Leaders, to allow immigration legislation to move forward, get a vote, and be signed into law.  Rep. Gutiérrez spoke towards the end of the rally after a concert that included Los Tigres Del Norte and Lila Downs, and after Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate immigration champion Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and House Republican immigration champion Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) addressed the audience.  The event was hosted by Casa in Action and SEIU Local 32BJ in the National Capital region and sponsored nationally by the Alliance for Citizenship, AFL-CIO, Center for Community Change/Fair Immigration Reform Movement, NEA, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA) and SEIU.  It was the culmination of events on October 5 as part of the National Day of Action for Immigrant Dignity and Respect (www.reformaoctubre.org or http://octoberimmigration.org). 

After the speaking portion of the program on the Mall, Congressman Gutiérrez joined approximately 200 others, including Members of Congress, in getting arrested in an act of civil disobedience.

The following are the remarks, as prepared for delivery, delivered by Rep. Gutiérrez.  Rep. Gutiérrez, in his 11th term, is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Taskforce of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

 

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Rep. LuisV. Gutiérrez
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

 

We are here to demand that Speaker Boehner and the Republican Leadership give us a vote on immigration reform. 

We know the votes are there! 

For the first time in my 20 years in Congress I know the votes are there.

Now there are 30 or 40 Republicans -- some estimate as many as 85 Republicans in Congress -- who support legalization and immigration reform in some form.

They know the power of our vote, they know the popularity of immigration reform, they know the hunger and passion in our community, and yet we still have not seen immigration reform signed into law by the President because other Republicans are holding it up.

That is why you and I must turn up the volume even more.  Since the election last November, the United States has deported another 400,000 people. We know the enormous toll it takes on our families, our neighborhoods and our peace of mind.

Our communities and our families do not have the luxury to rest or relax.  1,100 people will be deported today, 1,100 people will be deported tomorrow, and the next day. 

Those of us who have the piece of paper and peace of mind that ensures our return home tonight to our families must fight for those who do not have that piece of paper or that peace of mind.

So I am joining these religious leaders, our union brothers and sisters, our friends from all walks of life who have both the legal piece of paper and the peace of mind that comes with being a citizen or being a permanent resident and we will march to the Capitol in just a few minutes.

We will go and risk arrest and sacrifice the very freedom that 30,000 people in detention right now do not have. 

We will lose a few hours of our freedom to stand for justice for the children who are being put in foster care today because their parent was deported last night.

I will lock arms with my colleagues and go to jail today for the father who was deported and cannot see his children, see them grow up, and see them prosper in the United States, the country of their birth.

Fifty years ago, my hero, John Lewis was criticized for leading demonstrations and non-violent protests. 

But John Lewis is here with us today and we together with my colleagues are willing to give of ourselves to win freedom for those who have none.

A month ago, 50 people were arrested on the capitol grounds calling a vote in the House. Then a couple weeks ago, 100 women were arrested calling for a vote in the House.

Today we will be 200.  And the next time we will be more and more and more until the Congress acts to give us reform that stops the deportations;

Reform that does not militarize the border or criminalize immigrants;

Reform that respects the family and honors hard work by reestablishing the rule of law.

And reform that does not only benefit the DREAMers or the high-tech workers or the engineers without also providing justice to the parents of those DREAMers, the woman who cleans the high-tech worker's office or home; and the construction workers who build the building that the engineer imagines.

Will you fight by my side? 

Will you march with me?

Will you join me in our call for justice?

This is how we win justice in the United States.  This is how we establish fairness in the United States.  And this is how we honor the elders who have gone before us in the United States.