This morning, Rep. Luis Gutierrez made headlines from the House floor when he announced the conclusion of the three-month window Republicans had to pass immigration reform. In April, Gutierrez told House Republicans that the next few weeks represented a must-take opportunity for Republicans if they were serious about immigration legislation. That time has passed, and House GOPers have dithered away the time, making excuses rather than act. The three month period is now over, and time is up for Republicans. The reform process will move on without them now, focusing on President Obama, who has indicated that he will take action on deportations. Republicans, meanwhile, will now head toward the 2016 elections without anything to show Latino voters on immigration reform — even though losing that demographic is the reason why they lost the Presidential election.
Read Rep. Gutierrez’s full speech from today, below, or view the video:
Mr. Speaker, I came to the floor on April 2 to tell my Republican colleagues that they had three months to craft an immigration policy before the July 4 recess.
At the time, there was still hope that sensible Republicans would see that their existence as a national party depended on getting the immigration issue resolved.
I came back to this well almost every week to remind my Republican colleagues that time was running out.
With the nation gripped by World Cup fever, let me give you a visual representation of my message for the last three months:
[YELLOW CARD] I gave Republicans a yellow card to put them on warning that they must act on immigration — and if they failed to act – they would be out of the game.
Having met with the President in March, I knew he was prepared to give Republicans time to craft an immigration reform bill– but if they failed to take action, I knew the President intended to use his pen and pad to save families at risk of being split up by deportation.
But let’s review where we stand three months after I gave you that first warning.
A year ago this Friday marks the one-year anniversary of passage of the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill that passed with 68 votes. We had our own group of eight in the House crafting a tough but fair immigration compromise but politics slowed us down and the effort collapsed.
But some leaders in the Republican Party – knowing that immigration reform is the only way to achieve border security, workplace verification like E-Verify, legal immigration to feed our economy, and compassion and justice for how we treat our immigrant neighbors and friends – some in the Republican Party kept trying.
And on my side of the aisle we kept an open mind. When the Speaker said no to the Senate bill, I said, OK, let’s find a way to craft a House bill. When Republicans said no to a conference, I said we will find a way to make it work if that is what you need. Piecemeal bills, not one comprehensive bill – we will work with you. No direct path to citizenship for most immigrants, well, we don’t like it, but let’s keep talking.
No one tried harder than I did to keep the two parties talking about how to move forward on immigration. There are Members of the Republican Conference who need immigration reform politically, others who want it because it restores law and order, and others for reasons deeply grounded in their conservative philosophy. Still others are fighting for reform out of a sense of compassion and doing the right thing as a nation.
But months passed and Republicans turned their backs on their own Members, turned their backs on the American people, turned their backs on the business community, on Latino and Asian voters, and on those trying to save the Republican Party from itself.
But I kept hoping the better angels in the Republican Party would tamp down the irrational and angry angels blocking reform the American people want and deserve.
And then the last straw.
As violence, poverty and gangs drive families out of Central America, I see Republican Members of Congress and their allies in talk radio and TV taking advantage of a humanitarian crisis to score political points.
In a few hours, the Judiciary Committee – which has done nothing to help move the Republican Party and the Congress forward on immigration – will hold a hearing on what it calls Obama’s “Administration-made disaster on the U.S.-Mexico border.”
I gave you the warning three-months ago and now I have no other choice.
[RED CARD] You’re done. Leave the field. Too many flagrant offenses and unfair attacks and too little action while you run out the clock. You are out. Hit the showers. I’m giving you the red card.
First of all, your chance to play a role in how immigration and deportation policies are carried out this year is over. Having been given ample time and space to craft legislation, you failed, the President now has no other choice but to act within existing law to ensure that our deportation policies are humane, that due-process rights are protected, that detention conditions are as they should be, and most importantly – that the people we are deporting are detriments to our communities, not assets to our families, economy, and society.
And I think we all know that you are out when it comes to the White House. By taking no action – even after repeated warnings – you have decided it is up to the Democrats to pick Supreme Court Justices, conduct foreign policy, and carry out all of the functions of the Executive Branch for a generation or more to come.
The Republican presidential nominee, whoever he may be, will enter the race with an Electoral College deficit he cannot make up.
Republicans in the House simply have no answer when it comes to immigration reform and Republicans have failed America and failed themselves.
Mr. Speaker, it is now up to the President to act.