REP. GUTIÉRREZ CALLS POPE FRANCIS “THE ANTIDOTE” TO DONALD TRUMP’S “VENOM” IN HOUSE FLOOR SPEECH
“On one shoulder, we have a billionaire out there saying Mexicans are murderers… On the other shoulder is a man who is not afraid to touch the feet of the poor and recognizes their humanity even in their poverty.”
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) wasted no time in returning to the House floor to give a speech about the number one topic in Latino neighborhoods in America: Donald Trump. Speaking between enlarged photos of Donald Trump over one shoulder and Pope Francis over the other during the “Morning Hour” (approximately 10:10 am ET), Rep. Gutiérrez spoke of the arrival of Pope Francis in just two weeks and the need for “a counter weight to what has become the ugliest, most xenophobic, most anti-immigration campaign in anyone’s memory.”
The Congressman said when the Pope addresses a joint session of Congress later this month, “we will see two paths in very sharp relief. Build a wall or build a bridge? Help our brother or turn our backs? Belittle our sister or share her heavy load? Incite distrust and division or foster unity to face our challenges because we are stronger together?”
The Congressman concluded:
For this Catholic American – for this man who has sometimes struggled with the Church and is not always welcomed because of my support for women’s health, a woman’s right to a legal abortion, LGBT rights – I am so looking forward to the Pope’s visit because I feel my nation needs him right now.
The video of today’s speech is here: https://youtu.be/TOtHYi6Xfoo
The text, as prepared for delivery, is below.
Rep. 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.
Floor Speech | September 9, 2015
You know in the movies and the cartoons, when someone has to make a choice and the little devil and the little angel appear on their shoulder to give both good and bad advice?
Well, that is what I feel America is going to feel like in a couple of weeks when His Holiness Pope Francisco comes to visit us – including an address in this very room.
On one shoulder, we have a billionaire out there saying Mexicans are murderers, immigrants come to this country to get on welfare, our best days are behind us, and just getting tough and insulting people will solve all of our problems and make us great again.
And almost everyone else in his party is scrambling to catch up so they do not miss out on the wave of populist anger he is tapping…and feeding with a mix of untruths, half-truths, and good old fashioned racism.
On the other shoulder is a man who is not afraid to touch the feet of the poor and recognizes their humanity even in their poverty.
He is a man who sees actual human problems like our environment and tries to bring us together to do something about it.
He is a man who through deeds, declarations, and his own demeanor says in a clear voice: “Welcome the stranger” and “Come onto me.”
He does not blame a nation’s problems on the strangers at the gate or say get the hell out.
In many ways, Pope Francis represents the Anti-Trump. The antidote to his venom.
I, like a lot of my Democratic colleagues and a lot of my Catholic colleagues – and frankly the majority of Americans of all faiths and political stripes across the nation -- are very much looking forward to the Pope’s visit and the Pope’s words because our nation needs a counter-balance, a counter weight to what has become the ugliest, most xenophobic, most anti-immigration campaign in anyone’s memory.
You can also throw in large helpings of anti-woman, anti-environmental, and anti-poor attacks in there as well.
Shortly after The Donald announced with great fanfare -- and extreme insult and unvarnished racism -- that he would inflict his campaign for the White House on the nation, I came to this well to address my colleagues on July 9.
I discussed a reasoned approach to dealing with immigrant criminals who must be locked up and deported and distinguishing them from the vast majority of America’s immigrants who live peacefully and helpfully among us.
They come here to work and make a better life for themselves and their families -- as my parents did when they left Puerto Rico in the 1950s to seek a better life, eventually landing in Chicago.
It is the strength and the advantage of our nation that we come from everywhere but have put together the best nation on earth by working together. It is what defines us as a people.
Most of our ancestors came to this land of their own free will, and some did not. Most came here seeking a dream or running away from a nightmare -- or sometimes both.
Most of us came legally, sometimes waiting in lines that lasted years and some of us, when legality was not an option and there was no line to stand in, came anyway because work and freedom are so plentiful.
But in the United States, we came together from our many nations and traditions and languages and religions and made the one nation that stands above all others as the defender of liberty, the engine of the world economy, and the beacon of freedom recognized in every corner of the globe.
We are proud of our accomplishments as we should be, despite our humble beginnings when no one and no other nation thought we could survive to take our place among the world’s nations.
As the Pope joins us this month to deliver his message of peace and inclusion, I urge us all to remember the many challenges we have faced as a nation and the many obstacles we have overcome.
Just a few decades ago, the thought of a Catholic President was outrageous and the thought of a Pope addressing a joint session of Congress was far-fetched.
Just about as far-fetched as a black President, a woman president, or a Latino Pope from the Americas.
But over the decades – in fits and starts, marching forward, being pushed back, and marching forward again arm in arm – we have spent more time listening to our better angels and their advice -- taking us towards a brighter future -- and less time listening to our darker influences, who lament progress and seek to divide us from one another.
I think in this Capitol Building, in this Chamber, when the Pope speaks to us, we will see two paths in very sharp relief.
Build a wall or build a bridge?
Help our brother or turn our backs?.
Belittle our sister or share her heavy load?
Incite distrust and division or foster unity to face our challenges because we are stronger together?
For this Catholic American – for this man who has sometimes struggled with the Church and is not always welcomed because of my support for women’s health, a woman’s right to a legal abortion, and LGBT rights – I am so looking forward to the Pope’s visit because I feel my nation needs him right now.
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