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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

ABC News Transcript: This Week 01-21-2018: Rep. Gutiérrez discusses the government shutdown, immigration and Donald Trump

January 21, 2018
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REP. LUIS Gutiérrez (D-IL) ON


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Transcript Highlights

Rep. Gutiérrez on conceding to build the wall: “I think the wall is a monumental waste of taxpayers’ money…it’s just idiotic, having said that, if that’s what it’s going to take in order to put 800,000 young men and women…and put them on a course to full integration into our society, if that’s what the hostage takers of the Dreamers, if that’s their ransom call, I say pay it.”

Rep. Gutiérrez on Gen. Kelly’s comments that President Trump was not fully informed: “Here is what [Gen. Kelly] said: The president of the United States, while he was campaigning, made promises that were not fully informed…it was so astonishing to me that I immediately wrote it down… He said I’ve educated the president and the president has evolved on the issue.”

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday morning, January 21, 2018 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. All excerpts must be attributed to ABC News “This Week with George Stephanopoulos 

Jonathan Greenberger is the Executive Producer. The program airs Sundays on the ABC Television Network (check local listings). Visit the “This Week” website to read more about the show at:


STEPHANOPOULOS:  Back now with two key members of the house on opposite sides of the immigration debate, Democrat Luis Gutierrez from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Republican Mark Meadows, chair of the Freedom Caucus.  Gentlemen, welcome to both of you.

Congressman Gutierrez, let me begin with you.  You saw our poll showing that Americans more inclined to blame Republicans for the shutdown,but CNN also has a poll that says they think it's more important to avoid a shutdown, 56 percent versus continuing DACA, 34 percent.  We put that poll up right now.

Are you worried at all about Democrats overplaying their hand?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS:  Yeah, let me start by saying this to you, George, look, I think the wall is a monumental waste of tax payer money.  It's to build a monument to stupidity and it's just idiotic.

Having said that, if that's what it's going to take in order to put 800,000 young men and women in this country, Dreamers, and put them in a safe place and put them on a course to full integration in our society, if that's what the hostage takers of the Dreamers, if that's their ransom call, I say pay it and then...

STEPHANOPOULOS:  I thought Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall.

GUTIERREZ:  Next November , we'll deal with the kidnappers at the election at the polls.  And let's reopen the government.

But George, that's what the president said.  He said I want to wall, and as despicable as it is, as hurtful as it is to people like me and others in this country, we are ready to sacrifice that so that Dreamers can have freedom in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  $20 billion that Mexico was supposed to pay?

GUTIERREZ:  That's exactly the point.  $20 billion.  A president of the United States had said Mexico are murderers, criminals, drug dealers, and we have got to build a wall.  We've got to get rid of them.  We have got to build a wall.

Because the conversation has always been about, well, you know, those Democrats they're not into border security.  All right, you want to build this monument to stupidity.  You want to waste, and you insist upon wasting $20 billion, then I say free the Dreamers.

I have -- they've taken them hostage, George.  What am I supposed to do?  I asked them to sign up.  I filled out forms by the thousand with them.  It is my responsibility today to put them in a safe place.  

But George, it's really not.  You know what this demonstrates to us?  That it's really not about border security, right.  Because the government should be open.  Because people like I and others in the Democratic Party -- and I want to make clear, Dick Durbin offered them the money for the wall.  Schumer offered the money for the wall.  I wasn't the first one to come up with the Democrats to say this.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  You heard Marc Short...

GUTIERREZ:  But I have been clear about it.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Congressman, you heard Marc Short earlier in the program, he said that that wasn't good enough, that they also needed changes in the chain immigration and the lottery system.  Are you willing to accept that in return for freeing the DACA hostages, as you put it?

GUTIERREZ:  Here's my point to you.  What it reveals to us is the president of the United States has said -- and he said this on numerous occasions, George, I want a wall.  You get the Dreamers.  And now they move the goals, right.  Here's what they're saying to us, George, and we have to be very clear about it, and we are going to fight this, they want to end legal immigration to the United States.  They say let's build a wall to keep us safe.  They say let's build a wall so that our workers don't have to compete with illegals that come across the -- but then they end legal immigration.  They say the lottery system, let's end it.  That's legal immigration to the United States.

George, what they want is the following -- and listen very carefully to what they're saying.  When they say chain immigration, which is something just as a general, offensive to me to use that word, right, because it's really about family reunification.  It's about a mom bringing their children, about children bringing their moms, about husband and a wife, those are the visas they're going after.  Let's be absolutely clear.  They what to end.  What does my ability to bring my brother to the United States of America, what does the ability that I have to bring my children to this country or my children to bring me have to do with border security? Have to do with keeping this country safe?  They want to end legal immigration.

And you know what, George, we have to fight that.  Because it's the essence of who we are
as a nation.  It's core to what it is to be American, to have an immigration policy.  We would not be a nation without immigrants and an immigration policy.  And we have to push back.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Congressman, you were at the White House with General Kelly this week, did he really say the president was uninformed on the wall?

GUTIERREZ:  Yes.  Well, I had a meeting.  I was sitting right next to him, next to Mr. Kelly, and here's what he said.  He said the president of the United States when he was campaigning made promises that were not fully informed.  I wrote it down.  I wrote it down.  It was so astonishing to me that I immediately wrote it down.  He said was not fully informed.  Is that uninformed?  I heard the president was not fully informed.

He said I've educated the president and the president has evolved on the issue.  And when I asked General Kelly what's a wall?  He said it could be the inhospitable terrain.  It could be border patrol agents.  It could be drones.  That's why I'm saying, let's take it off the table.  Let's take it off the table. The America public has heard this president say time and time again he wants a wall.  And as repugnant as it is to me, and as idiotic as it is to me, George, this debate has to be about men and women, about youth -- 800,000 young people.  And I'm going to put them first.  And you know what, if I have to muddy up my hands in order to do it so that they live a clean life in this country?  Then let's do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  OK.  Congressman, thanks, we got your perspective right there.

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