tags: , , , , , AVEF, Blog

Luis Gutierrez Gives Floor Speech Against SAFE Act: "When Is It Enough?"

Share This:

Below are remarks from Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who delivered a speech on the House floor about today’s markup of the SAFE Act in the House Judiciary Committee:

Remarks on Immigration, U.S. Congress, June 18, 2013

Mr. Speaker —

Later today, the Judiciary Committee will mark-up the first immigration-reform bill offered by Republicans in the 113th Congress.

Since Election Day, no Member of Congress has done more to highlight and praise Republicans for their new spirit of bipartisanship on immigration than I.

I praised our Committee and Subcommittee Chairmen for their new tone in Republican-led immigration hearings.

When the Republican Party Chairman said Republicans had to stop pushing Latino voters away, I said “Right on, Reince.”

When the Young Republicans warned the GOP to change its tune with younger and more immigration-friendly voters to remain viable, I said “I think you’re right.”

When your former candidate for Vice President, the Budget Committee Chairman, came to Chicago to talk about immigration reform, I brought him to the barrio so that the Latino community could see and applaud his commitment to reforming our immigration system.

Judge Carter, the gentleman from Texas, and I shared the stage in San Antonio to discuss immigration reform deep in the heart of Texas, where we agreed on many more things than we disagreed.

He and I have met almost every day since January with a small bipartisan group of colleagues to fashion a bill that both parties can embrace.

And it is hard work for both Parties.

On the other side of the aisle, it is hard to talk about immigrants in a new way when your Party, its platform, its candidates, its talk-radio and TV personalities have spoken disparagingly about immigrants for years.

When you reference gang-bangers, drunk-drivers, and rapists every time you talk about immigrants, it is hard to switch gears quickly.

But most Republicans in this body — up until a few weeks ago — were singing from a new and more harmonious hymnal.

Bipartisan work on immigration reform has been difficult on my side of the aisle too.

I have always fought for universal health care coverage, but discussing health care coverage for undocumented immigrants and their families — even in the context of a legalization program where they pay their full taxes, submit fingerprints, and pay huge fines — is a non-starter with Republicans.

I have advocated for LGBT rights from my days as a Chicago Alderman, but to work in a bipartisan manner, it’s off the table.

To keep discussions with Republicans going, I am told the Diversity Visa Program that brings in immigrants from Africa, Ireland, and around the world who diversify our immigrant pool — that program is eliminated, no discussion.

Siblings of U.S. citizens, siblings of permanent residents.  Nope.  That is on the chopping block if you want to be bipartisan.

And the fees and fines we will charge immigrants to be here legally — that will fund more drones, fences, border guards, and more enforcement on a border that is as secure as it has ever been in American history.

I ask my Republican colleagues “When is it enough?”

But we want to keep things moving forward, so we Democrats hold our tongues, work within the bipartisan process, and stay with the group.  I speak well of the Republicans who have partnered with Democrats on a serious bipartisan bill this year.

A tough but fair bipartisan Senate bill is moving toward passage, and our tough but fair bipartisan House bill is nearly complete. We are putting aside partisan bickering to solve a difficult policy issue for the American people.

In this moment, just in time for the Fourth of July, we get Red Meat politics for the barbeque and partisan fireworks on immigration.

The Arizona SB1070 law was substantially struck down by the Supreme Court?  No matter, the Republicans want to nationalize it.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is slapped by the Federal Court for systematically denying the civil rights of Latino U.S. citizens and legal immigrants?  No matter.  The Republicans want to canonize him.

Police and local governments want immigrants in their community to be able to call the police if they are the victim of crime or are witnesses to crime?  Too bad.  Republicans in Washington know better than your cops, prosecutors and Mayors at home. They will cut your federal funding unless you commit to full-frontal deportation and local immigration enforcement.

When 500,000 Latino citizens turn 18 every year and become potential voters, Republicans seem hell bent on lining up and jumping off a demographic cliff.

While our country demands solutions and leadership, Republicans are feeding the partisan monster red meat as if their calendars already read 2014.

As a Democrat, I should probably just stand back and watch.  If you want to hang yourself on the immigration issue, who am I to stop you?

But as an American, I have to tell you what I really feel.

Your country needs you to step away from the partisan red meat and fear-mongering that has defined your Party on immigration.  Come back to your senses.

Do not push forward a bill that criminalizes every immigrant family and makes everyone think twice before they call 9-1-1.

You are better than this.