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Immigration Reform Champion Luis Gutierrez Declares Three Month Deadline for House Legislative Action

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Guti: If the House GOP Won’t Act, the President Will   

Washington, DC – This morning on the floor of the House of Representatives Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) told House Republicans that time is running out for them to take action on immigration reform.  If action isn’t taken by the July 4th Congressional recess, he predicts that President Obama will take bold executive action to keep immigrant families together.

Here are the key parts of his floor speech:

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….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.  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.

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?

….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.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

This is huge.  No one has worked harder or more tirelessly to forge a bipartisan consensus on immigration reform than Rep. Gutierrez.  He has consistently reached out to Republicans and repeatedly made it clear he’s willing to be flexible to pass reform in a way that helps the GOP influence the policy outcome and share political credit.  But the Congressional clock and the community’s patience are fast running out.  The message from Rep. Gutierrez couldn’t be clearer: if House Republicans don’t act in the coming weeks and months, they will squander their best opportunity to modernize before the 2016 election, and President Obama will step in to do as much as he can to protect immigrants through executive action.  Republicans and their allies who engage in wishful thinking about the possibility of reform in the next Congress should take heed: it’s now or never.  And beware: if they choose inaction, the GOP will be sacrificing more than a chance to influence immigration policy.  They will be putting their political future at risk with the fastest growing groups of voters in America.

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