REP. GUTIÉRREZ: “THE DONALD MISSES THE POINT”

Rep. Gutiérrez addresses House on immigration and Trump

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) addressed the House of Representatives during the morning hour (approximately 10:10 am ET) about Donald Trump and his claims that Mexican immigrants are mostly criminals, drug-dealers and rapists.  Standing before a picture of the Republican presidential candidate, TV personality and hotelier, Rep. Gutiérrez started by saying, “For the record, I am not Mexican and I am not an immigrant.  Given the rhetoric of the leading Republican candidate for President, it is important to point that out at the start before I am accused of being a criminal, a drug-dealer or a rapist.”

Rep. Gutiérrez went on to discuss the vulnerability of immigrant women to sexual assault and crime and his call for “a modern immigration system based on common-sense, compassion, and the rule of law,” that would make us all safer.  In the context of the recent murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, apparently by an undocumented immigrant who was previously in federal custody and who had been deported multiple times, the issue of which approach to immigration will give us more control and safety is important to discuss.  The Congressman said.

 “When we have felons in federal custody or state and local custody with warrants for drug crimes who are deported multiple times and come back, this Congress has not done its job, unfairly leaving states and localities to cope with decades of inaction on immigration, criminal justice, and a range of other issues.  I have no sympathy for the man accused in this crime.”

He then discussed a vision for a modern immigration system, that he said, “would make it harder for murderers to hide and easier for honest hard-working folks to contribute to their communities without fear.”

The text of the Congressman’s speech today, as prepared for delivery, is below.

A video of his speech is here: https://youtu.be/75l07h_txIQ

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez represents the Fourth District of Illinois, is a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, and is the Co-Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. 

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

July 9, 2015

For the record, I am not Mexican and I am not an immigrant.  Given the rhetoric of the leading Republican candidate for President, it is important to point that out at the start before I am accused of being a criminal, a drug-dealer or a rapist.

To be fair, Donald Trump did not say that all Latinos or all Mexicans are rapists.

Just that the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are rapists, drug-dealers, and criminals.

Clearly, if anyone has firsthand knowledge of Mexicans working illegally in the United States it is the owner of hotels, casinos, office buildings, and clothing lines.

But Trump did not seem to be basing his opinions about Mexican immigrants on personal knowledge.  To justify his claims, Trump said that most of the women coming from Central America to the U.S. through Mexico and other countries, report being sexually assaulted.

On this, I think I probably agree with him.  Women and children at the lowest rung of the economic and social ladder are incredibly vulnerable to sexual assault and rape. 

But the leap from saying most undocumented women are vulnerable to assault and saying most undocumented men are rapists is, as he might say himself, HUGE.

The documentary on PBS Frontline: “Rape In The Fields” was a powerful exposé on how immigrant women toiling in our fields are regularly the victims of rape and abuse because perpetrators recognize how vulnerable immigrant women are.  They are afraid to talk to the police, afraid they will be deported; and afraid they will lose their children.  And this fear to report crimes makes us all less safe. 

Yes, the rape and abuse is sometimes perpetrated by other Latino immigrants, perhaps even Mexicans, but these crimes are also committed by men of all colors and national origins, including red, white and blue Americans.

So when Donald Trump says on CNN: “Well, someone is doing the raping,” as further evidence that we should build a big wall, plaster his name on it, and keep immigrants out, I think it is pretty clear The Donald misses the point.

The question is how do we create an immigration system that protects us from criminals and that allows people to come with visas and not smugglers so that their work is honored, safe and protected by our labor laws? 

How do we make sure these workers who contribute so much to America’s economy are not afraid to dial 911 and report wage theft or assault when someone – anyone – is threatening them or their families?

Now the anti-immigration wing of the Republican Party in this body and on-the-air is saying that Trump may have a point.  After all, an innocent woman was shot in cold blood by a Mexican immigrant in San Francisco just last week. 

Why wasn’t he deported?  Why wasn’t he held in jail the last time?  Why is – and you will actually hear this on Fox News – why is President Obama letting Mexicans kill beautiful young American women?

As the father of two daughters about the age of Kate Steinle, the young woman who was shot and killed, I pray every night that no one of any racial or ethnic background ever does them harm and I can only imagine the grief that her family is feeling.

When we have felons in federal custody or state and local custody with warrants for drug crimes who are deported multiple times and come back, this Congress has not done its job, unfairly leaving states and localities to cope with decades of inaction on immigration, criminal justice, and a range of other issues.  I have no sympathy for the man accused in this crime.  He should not be allowed to roam free.

So, what if we had a system that allowed people who have lived here a long time, contributed productively to American society, and who have children and other deep roots in the United States…What if we allowed them to come forward?

What if we made them pay for their own criminal background check, finger-printed them, made them prove their identity, and check-up on them every so often to make sure they are not gaming the system or committing crimes?

What if we had a system where people could come legally in the first place, if they prove their identity and have no criminal background.

I argue that such a system would allow us to reduce significantly the number of people who are in the country without legal status.  It would shrink the size of communities where many people are undocumented, where people are afraid to call the police so that criminals find it easy to blend in, not stick out..

Such a system would allow us to concentrate our enforcement and deportation resources on real criminals who should be jailed, then thrown out and kept out.

Such a system would make it harder for murderers to hide and easier for honest hard-working folks to contribute to their communities without fear.

Unfortunately, that is exactly the system that some Republicans have been fighting against.

So when a hotel and casino owner gets on his high horse about Mexican immigrants, about crime, rape, and murder, let’s think about who is standing between the United States and a modern immigration system based on common-sense, compassion, and the rule of law.

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