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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

Gutiérrez On AG Sessions’ Campaign To Make Immigrant “Filth” America’s “Public Enemies Number 1”

April 27, 2017
Press Release
“Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump want more immigrants criminalized, felonized, and deported.”
Issues: 

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke on the House floor about the Attorney General's campaign “to paint immigrants as criminals, rapists, gang members and ‘cartel henchmen.’”  The Congressman from Illinois noted the Attorney General’s characterization of the U.S. border as “this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.” Even though the Attorney General edited out his reference to “filth” when he delivered his speech at the border a couple of weeks ago, the line remains on the DOJ website and reflects the way the Attorney General and the Trump Administration view immigrants and Latinos.         

Through pronouncements and executive orders, the Attorney General and President Trump have labeled immigrants “Public Enemies Number 1” with new instructions to U.S. Attorney offices and with half of all federal prosecutions devoted to immigration-related offenses.

In the new Trump era, a felony prosecution against an immigrant who has been living and working here peacefully for decades is three-times more important than a felony prosecution against a narcotics trafficker. And that imbalance is not enough for the Attorney General.  He wants to prosecute immigrants beyond the full extent of the law by turning misdemeanors into felonies and turning felonies into aggravated felonies.

Rep. Gutierrez noted that associating immigrants with crime and violence has been a centerpiece of Trump’s political career – and that of the Attorney General while he was in the Senate – from the beginning:

This is not a surprise. When Donald Trump descended the golden escalator and announced his candidacy for President, almost the first words out of his mouth were that Mexicans are rapists and immigration is turning America into a war zone. When he was a Senator from Alabama, the Attorney General made a career of associating immigrants with crime and doing his best to defeat reforms that would strengthen legal immigration and reduce illegal immigration. Deportation, criminalization, and restricting legal immigration were the bedrock of his approach to immigration.

The Congressman went on to say:

When you hear a constituent say ‘Hey, why don’t those immigrants come here legally’ Or, ‘why don’t those who are here illegally go out and come back legally? The answer is clear: As a Senator, our Attorney General played a big role in making that impossible.

He concluded by saying,

The American people are sensible, fair, and pragmatic and are correct when they reject the idea that a wall makes sense in the 21st century as the centerpiece of our immigration policy.  We are not persuaded by the poetry of the Attorney General when he stands at our border and says ‘It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand…’ No.  We think of another, better poem, the one at the Statue of Liberty, the lady with her torch in the harbor who shares our deeply held values as Americans and says every day to the entire world, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…’

A video of the Congressman’s speech is here: https://youtu.be/lJ8vcgB9yHk

Rep. Gutiérrez is in his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois.  He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

 

FLOOR SPEECH

(As prepared for delivery)

04/27/17

“This is a new era, this is the Trump era.”

Mr. Speaker, those were the words of the Attorney General, the former Senator from Alabama.

The Attorney General has launched a campaign to paint immigrants as criminals, rapists, gang members and [quote] “cartel henchmen.”

In his prepared remarks at the border a couple of weeks ago, the Attorney General planned to say the following: [Quote] “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.” [end quote]

When he gave the speech, he edited out the words “this filth” because I guess calling immigrants from Latin America “filth” was too extreme even for the Attorney General…but the line remains on the DOJ website. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-delivers-remarks-announcing-department-justice-s-renewed)

In fact, as far as the Attorney General is concerned, any immigrant who is here illegally is a criminal alien.

He has ordered the government to prosecute immigration violations, even minor ones, to the full extent of the law and to make prosecution of immigrants a top priority – on a par with murder, drugs or counterfeiting.

He has ordered every one of the 94 US Attorney’s offices to appoint a special prosecuting attorney so that immigrants are considered “Public Enemies Number 1” nationwide.

According to latest federal data, 46 percent of the new federal criminal prosecutions are immigration related, while narcotics, the second highest crime prosecuted, accounts for only 14 percent of new federal cases. 

In the new Trump era, a felony prosecution against an immigrant who has been living and working here peacefully for decades is three-times more important than a felony prosecution against a narcotics trafficker. 

And that imbalance is not enough for the Attorney General.  He wants to prosecute immigrants beyond the full extent of the law by turning misdemeanors into felonies and turning felonies into aggravated felonies.

They think it will not look so ugly when the U.S. is deporting moms and dads who have raised successful families – or deporting children who grew up in the U.S. from the time they were toddlers – if the Attorney General and his team can make them look like thugs, gang-bangers, and rapists.

Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump want more immigrants criminalized, felonized, and deported.

Yes, we are truly in the Trump era.

But, let’s be frank.  This is not a surprise.  When Donald Trump descended the golden escalator and announced his candidacy for President, almost the first words out of his mouth were that Mexicans are rapists and immigration is turning America into a war zone.

When he was a Senator from Alabama, the Attorney General made a career of associating immigrants with crime and doing his best to defeat reforms that would strengthen legal immigration and reduce illegal immigration.

Deportation, criminalization, and restricting legal immigration were the bedrock of his approach to immigration.

Our legal immigration system already works fine, according to both Senator and Attorney General Sessions, no matter that some of the people who are arriving today with visas applied for those visas when Bill Clinton was President or that some of those who apply today may have to wait until Chelsea Clinton is President to come here legally. 

So, Mr. Speaker, when you hear a constituent say “Hey, why don’t those immigrants come here legally?” Or, “why don’t those who are here illegally go out and come back legally?”

The answer is clear: As a Senator, our Attorney General played a big role in making that impossible.

Next week, millions of Americans will take to the streets to demonstrate against mass deportation, the border wall, prison beds and drive-by deportations.  But it is not because we are soft on crime or love immigrants more than the people who were born here. 

No.  We have a different vision of what the United States is and should always be.  We are not an incarceration nation, a country hostile to all other countries and their people. 

We are a great nation.  A nation that in her greatness is a beacon of hope to refugees, a land of opportunity for entrepreneurs, a democracy with separate branches of government that act as effective checks and balances on unlimited power.

The American people are sensible, fair, and pragmatic and are correct when they reject the idea that a wall makes sense in the 21st century as the centerpiece of our immigration policy.

We are not persuaded by the poetry of the Attorney General when he stands at our border and says “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand…”

No.  We think of another, better poem, the one at the Statue of Liberty, the lady with her torch in the harbor who shares our deeply held values as Americans and says every day to the entire world,

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” (https://libertystatepark.com/emma.htm)

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