tags: , , Blog

Gutierrez to GOP on Executive Action: 'If You Don't Like It, Then Do Something'

Share This:

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) took to the House floor this morning to deliver a speech encouraging Obama to soon announce his anticipated executive action on immigration, condemn Democrats who have suggested that Obama should delay, and explain why every day that passes by without relief is torturous for the immigrant community.

Obama must act now, Gutierrez said, because every deportation represents “people – people disappearing from their churches, from their kitchen tables, and from parent-teacher conferences.”

Gutierrez also slammed Republicans for continuing to suggest that it is Obama who would be “poisoning the well” on immigration by acting.  The truth, as everyone well knows it, is that Republicans have refused to take action for more than a year.  To wait for Republicans on immigration is to very likely never see reform.  The miniscule possibility of Republican action is no reason for Obama to wait — and that’s something that overcautious Democrats should realize as well.  As Gutierrez said:

Republicans had more than two years to draft a bill and a year to schedule a vote on the Senate bill and I do not see one scheduled today, tomorrow, or next week and I doubt I will before this Congress – and the bill – expires.

Watch the video of Gutierrez’s speech this morning or view the full transcript below:

We have not been back in DC for a full 24 hours and the immigration shenanigans have begun already.

Republicans and even a few unhelpful Democrats have been saying the President should not take executive action on immigration or should not act yet, as if his intention to use his executive power under existing law is a surprise.

David Axelrod, safe in the confines of the University of Chicago, has no sense of urgency because his mom and his neighbor are not facing deportation.

But it is a little different on my side of Chicago where people live in nearly constant fear that a loved one or a friend will be detained and then strapped into an airplane for deportation.

My Chicagoans have been waiting for the Congress to take action on immigration for over a decade.

Polish, Ukrainian, Irish and Mexican have been waiting.  Jamaicans and Philippinos.

They have been waiting for family members to get visas in backlogs that stretch to 20 years because Congress refuses to act.

They have been heart broken by laws that say — on the one hand — they can apply for a green card because they are married to a U.S. citizen, but on the other hand say they must wait in exile outside the country, away from their families for 10 years in order to get that green card.

Two hundred thousand deportations, three hundred thousand deportations, four hundred thousand deportations, per year – these statistics represent people – people disappearing from their churches, from their kitchen tables, and from parent-teacher conferences.

Why?  Because Congress is doing nothing to make it stop or make any progress towards an immigration system based in reality and common sense, where people come legally with visas rather than smugglers.

Now, the GOP conference in the House is saying after a decade of delay, a decade of defying the American people, and a decade of demonizing immigrants that they are so anxious to work on immigration reform, but there is just one thing stopping them: The President.

The one thing preventing Republicans from taking action , they say, is that the President may also take action to keep families together and address the destructive nature of deportations.

Here’s how one commentator in the Atlantic Magazine described it:

“Boehner’s effort to hold congressional immigration reform hostage if Obama acts unilaterally is so absurd.  Boehner killed the hostage long ago. Now he’s hoping that if he pretends it’s still alive, no one will notice the corpse lying on the floor.”

To put it another way, it is a little late for the Mayor of Chernobyl to worry about someone else poisoning the well.

The President stood right there and said that if this Congress fails to act on important national priorities, he will use his pen and phone within current law to do so.

Republicans heard him just as well as I did.

Republicans had more than two years to draft a bill and a year to schedule a vote on the Senate bill and I do not see one scheduled today, tomorrow, or next week and I doubt I will before this Congress – and the bill – expires.

Let’s just look at the record: Republicans said we cannot do immigration unless it is done piece meal; or we cannot do immigration unless people are denied citizenship; or we need more border security spending, or we need parole officers assigned to each immigrant who gets to stay and work.-

And every Democrat from the President on down — all the way to me – says, “Yes, yes, yes, compromise and progress are more important than gridlock and making every Democratic constituency happy.”

Governing means when Democrats say yes to Republican demands, Republicans actually move forward and we work together!

But none of that happened despite the door being open, the table being set, and Democrats saying — in effect – Republicans could order anything off the menu.

And yet, here we are with no action, no vote, and Republicans threatening to double down on “no action” if the President – acting within the letter and the spirit of the laws passed by Congress – takes action to help the country.

The President will act, as he should.  Boldly, broadly and soon to help the country.

And when he acts, tens of millions of our fellow American citizens will support him. Why?  Because they care more about justice and practicality than they do about partisan politics and the blame game.

Because a policy based on driving out 10 million immigrants is neither a sensible one nor one we should be spending billions of dollars on.

The President will act because Presidents before him have acted to solve immigration problems when the Congress acted too slowly.

The President will act because he believes — as the American people do — that families are important and children should be raised without the Government coming along and ripping their mommy or daddy away from them.

I am tired of the manufactured excuses for inaction.  The U.S. Congress can still debate, vote and pass any immigration law it wants to and the best way to get something done will be if leaders on both sides work together.

If you don’t like it, do something!  There is nothing in your way but yourselves.