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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

Rep. Gutiérrez Speaks Out On Two GOP Anti-Immigrant Bills On House Floor

June 28, 2017
Press Release
“[T]he question is not whether or not these bills will pass the House…but whether Democrats will be tempted to vote for tough-sounding measures because they are afraid to be labeled by conservative talk-radio hosts as weak on punishing the ‘Mexican murderers and rapists’ they think are lurking in American every alley.”
Issues: 

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke on the House floor about the two immigration bills on the House floor this week (HR 3003 and HR 3004), saying despite this being Immigrant Heritage Month, “House Republicans have made this anti-immigration week in the Congress.”  The vote on the bills to jail immigrants for longer periods of time and take money away from more than 600 cities and counties who do not enforce federal immigration laws in the way Republicans want them to comes as anti-immigration advocacy groups hold their annual talk-radio festival of live broadcasts from Washington, designed “to reinforce the anti-immigration fever that has gripped the Republican Party and allowed a tough-sounding game-show host to take over the party,” according to Rep. Gutiérrez.

The Congressman said:

So, we have a coordinated campaign from broadcasters, lawmakers, and the anti-immigration advocates to pressure Congress into passing bills to paint immigrants as a threat to our national and community safety.  Right out of the Trump playbook.  And the question is not whether or not these bills will pass the House – they will – but whether Democrats will be tempted to vote for tough-sounding measures because they are afraid to be labeled by conservative talk-radio hosts as weak on punishing the “Mexican murderers and rapists” they think are lurking in every alley.

The bills, which will be debated today and tomorrow, include the so-called “Kate’s Law” (HR 3004), a bill named for Kate Steinle who was killed in July 2015 by an immigrant who had been mistakenly released by the Bureau of Prisons and ICE and allowed out on the streets.  “Kate’s Law” would not have had an impact on the Steinle case, the Congressman said while addressing claims by right-wing conservative groups that he had made statements insensitive to the Steinle family’s loss.

[W]hat is coming to the floor this week would not have kept Kate Steinle’s killer off the streets.  It would have had no impact on that case whatsoever.  Instead, we are voting on a bill to put other people – in different circumstances – in jail for longer periods of time.  It is a bait and switch strategy; use a horrible tragedy to sell a policy that would not have prevented that death, so that you put more immigrants in jail for longer periods of time and prevent them from ever living legally in the United States.

The other bill, HR 3003, would take money for fighting crime away from the 600 or more counties and cities that Republicans call “sanctuary cities.”  Rep. Gutierrez said:

That doesn’t sound like crime-fighting, because it isn’t.  So why are they doing this?  Because Republicans in Washington think they have a better idea of how to fight crime than the county executives, state legislators, mayors and police chiefs.  “Do what we say or we will take your money away,” is what the Republicans are saying to cities and counties.

HR 3003 is opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police and other law enforcement and state/local government associations, leading the Congressman to ask:

So, to all the talk-radio hosts and advocacy groups: why are you on the side opposing the National Fraternal Order of Police and why would any Democrat want to cross that blue line to stand with you?

A video of the Congressman’s floor speech is here: https://youtu.be/8F8rE5-nU4w

The text (as prepared for delivery) is pasted below.

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

June 28, 2017

Mr. Speaker:

June is Immigrant Heritage Month in the United States, but to celebrate that, House Republicans have made this anti-immigration week in the Congress. 

The advocates against legal immigration have their annual talk-radio festival here in DC this week to extol the virtues of cutting off legal immigration. 

Dozens of conservative talk-radio hosts set up remote broadcasts here to talk about why criminalizing immigrants and turning misdemeanors into felonies is a good thing for America.  They trade stories – while broadcasting on the air – about immigrants doing horribly bad things to innocent Americans as if we were in a national crime spree of brown people killing white people.

The goal of the talk-radio hosts is to reinforce the anti-immigration fever that has gripped the Republican Party and allowed a tough-sounding game-show host to take over the party.

The main organization behind the gathering of talk-radio hosts is FAIR, the Federation Against American Immigration Reform, which we should note is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  That’s the organization in Alabama most directly responsible for suing the KKK out of the main-stream – or at least out of it until recently. 

It’s like D.W. Griffith might rise up from his grave to film “Rebirth of A Nation-The Sequel” because FAIR and its allies want to take our immigration policies back to the 1920s when the Klan marched openly in Washington and legal immigration was reduced to almost zero.  And they want to get rid of anyone here who is deportable or could be made deportable by passing new laws to criminalize them. 

Now, to coincide with the talk-radio anti-immigration week, Republicans are putting on a passion play of their own in the House of Representatives by bringing two anti-immigrant bills to the floor.

So we have a coordinated campaign from broadcasters, lawmakers, and the anti-immigration advocates to pressure Congress into passing bills to paint immigrants as a threat to our national and community safety.  Right out of the Trump playbook.

And the question is not whether or not these bills will pass the House – they will – but whether Democrats will be tempted to vote for tough-sounding measures because they are afraid to be labeled by conservative talk-radio hosts as weak on punishing the “Mexican murderers and rapists” they think are lurking in every American alley.

Of course, that is not what these bills actually do at all.  “Truth” and “talk-radio” do not often go together – certainly not in the era of Trump.

Let’s look at the two bills Republicans are bringing for a vote.

One bill is H.R. 3004, named for Kate Steinle, a young woman who was shot and killed by an immigrant nearly two years ago in San Francisco.  It happened in July and as you may remember, I was the first person to come to the floor and give a speech denouncing Kate’s killer and calling for laws that keep people like him off the streets. 

A week later, while talking about various immigration issues in Spanish with Telemundo, a quote was included in a story about Kate Steinle’s killing.  After it was aired, right-wing groups circulated it, alleging it was proof that I was insensitive to the Steinle family, when in fact, I was not speaking about Kate Steinle at the time and I had already spoken out specifically on Kate’s death here on the floor. 

But what is coming to the floor this week would not have kept Kate Steinle’s killer off the streets.  It would have had no impact on that case whatsoever.  Instead, we are voting on a bill to put other people – in different circumstances – in jail for longer periods of time. 

It is a bait and switch strategy; use a horrible tragedy to sell a policy that would not have prevented that death, so that you put more immigrants in jail for longer periods of time and prevent them from ever living legally in the United States.

The other bill, HR 3003, is designed to take money away from America’s largest cities and counties, specifically from efforts to fight crime. 

Grants that help local police fight crime would be eliminated for 600 of the country’s largest jurisdictions.

That doesn’t sound like crime-fighting, because it isn’t.

So why are they doing this?  Because Republicans in Washington think they have a better idea of how to fight crime than the county executives, state legislators, mayors and police chiefs.

“Do what we say or we will take your money away,” is what the Republicans are saying to cities and counties.

And that is the approach being taken by the conservatives who always talk about how state and local people should be trusted more and protected from federal mandates.  Well, I guess not when immigrants are concerned.

This is why these types of bills are opposed by The National Fraternal Order of Police and other police organizations.

So, to all the talk-radio hosts and advocacy groups: why are you on the side opposing the National Fraternal Order of Police and why would any Democrat want to cross that blue line to stand with you?

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