REP. GUTIÉRREZ OFFERS A LIFELINE ON IMMIGRATION TO REPUBLICANS, URGING THEM TO ACT ON IMMIGRATION
“If you refuse to act in the next 34 days…[the President] will act without you.”
Washington, DC – This morning, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) offered a lifeline to the Republican Party as time ticks away to pass an immigration reform bill in 2014. He spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives to say that the Republicans have only 34 legislative days left before the July 4 recess and that they had better have an immigration reform plan “seriously rolling down the tracks by the time we break for Independence Day.”
Otherwise, Rep. Gutiérrez said, the President will seize the initiative and act within legal authority he has under current law to “keep families together and spare U.S. citizens from losing their wives, their husbands, and their children to deportation.”
Rep. Gutiérrez challenged Republicans to act but made it clear that the President will act if they do not.
A video of the speech is here: https://youtu.be/V2-R-5L8s0o
The Congressman’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are pasted below.
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez represents the Fourth District of Illinois, is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, and is the Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Remarks, April 2, 2014
House of Representatives
On June 27, we will mark one year since our friends on the other side of the Hill in the United States Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill.
Four Senators from each Party worked together to get a bill introduced on April 16 of last year. By May the Judiciary Committee was debating and marking it up and by June it was headed to the Senate floor.
Then after debate and many, many amendments, it was voted on by the full Senate.
Sixty-eight out of 100 Senators voted to replace illegal immigration with legal immigration, legalize millions of people who live and work in the US, and secure our immigration system in the workplace and at the border.
After almost a year with no serious movement forward on immigration reform in the House, I am beginning to wonder whether the Republicans will get serious about immigration before they run out of time.
Well, I want to be helpful, so I have done a little calculating.
Including today, we have 34 legislative days before the July 4th recess.
And Madam Speaker, let’s be honest.
If Republicans have not gotten an immigration reform bill seriously rolling down the tracks by the time we break for Independence Day… Republicans might as well just fold up the big tent they always talk about.
One thing is for sure: Republicans will not be pitching that tent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue anytime soon.
I talk to Republicans and they know the truth:
If Republicans do not work with Democrats and bring an immigration bill to the floor, they are giving up a chance to stand for justice, a sense of peace, and fairness for immigrants until after the 2016 Presidential elections.
That means Republicans will have to head into the 2016 Presidential Elections as the party that blocked immigration reform that would finally have brought justice to immigrant communities.
You will have said no to the dreams of the DREAMers and no to millions of families and no to communities in every city across the country.
Oh, and Madam Speaker, if you think the Republican Party alone controls the future of 11 million undocumented immigrants, you will be sadly disappointed.
If you don’t act in the next 34 days – if you refuse to give the President a bill he can sign because you do not trust him to enforce immigration laws, even though he has spent more money and deported more people than any President before him, he will act without you.
He has alternatives under existing law.
There are concrete ways within existing law to help keep families together and spare U.S. citizens from losing their wives and their husbands and their children to deportation.
In spite of your lack of action!
And the President is going to do it.
I saw it in his eyes when I met with him.
He did not run for office so that he could deport two million people and put thousands of American children in foster care.
He is heartbroken by the pain deportations cause.
Do you think he will sit by and do nothing just because you are doing nothing?
The Republicans threaten lawsuits and even impeachment if the President acts to spare American families being broken apart by deportations.
But this President will act even if you refuse to act.
And the country will rally behind him because that’s what Americans do in the face of a humanitarian crisis.
And Republicans threaten to impeach him?
What’s new, Madam Speaker?
Look, you gotta remember, for the first three or four years he was President, leaders in the Republican Party – I mean Presidential candidates and entire TV networks -- questioned the President’s own immigration status.
We had ‘birthers’ denying the President was born in America.
They questioned whether he was an undocumented immigrant himself. They demanded to see his papers!
Now we have ‘deportation deniers’ falsely suggesting President Obama is not enforcing the law.
‘Oh, he’s not really deporting people,’ they say. ‘That’s all fake. Something Obama, Univision and Telemundo cooked up.’
The President knows the kind of pain that Congressional inaction has caused for families and children.
The President wants to be an emancipator, not a deporter, and he will act if he has to.
If you give him no choice, this President is going to take charge himself.
And he should.
So, once again, Madam Speaker, We offer a lifeline to Republicans.
Work with us to pass a bill before the President – faced with no other choice – takes action himself.
You have 34 legislative days left until July 4 and you better make use of them.
The American people are waiting.
# # #