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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Immigration Experts and Advocates Discuss State of Play in Congress, Administration

On today’s weekly Office Hours press briefing, Congressman Luis Gutierrez and immigration reform advocates discussed the state of play on policy reforms in Congress and the Administration.

While the Obama Administration continues to take steps to address the child refugee situation, with young people fleeing gangs and violence in Central America arriving in the U.S. in record numbers, there is still much more to be done.  Some responsible actors in Congress are trying to pass a clean supplemental spending bill, while opponents of immigrants are using the current situation to try to advance their anti-immigration wish list and ultimately, lead the body to a stalemate.  Their actions (or inaction, depending on perspective) are making it all the more crucial for the President to address both the refugee situation and the status of migrants in the interior with bold and decisive leadership.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said:

It appears the do-nothing Congress is living up to its reputation and looks poised to do nothing to address immigration and border issues once again.  But the ideological straightjacket Republicans are in shouldn’t prevent the President from taking action.  The President has significant latitude under current law to address both the short-term and long-term issues we face in immigration until such time as the Congress resolves its paralysis.  We need to treat immigrants humanely and order our priorities to make sure the vast sum of money we spend on enforcement is actually helping the country, not hurting us.

Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, said:

House Republicans have recklessly blamed lax immigration enforcement, insecure borders, and the deferred action program for DREAMers for the current surge of Central American kids. And they have introduced numerous bills over the last several weeks designed to roll back protections for kids fleeing violent, untenable conditions in their home countries. They even have proposals to deport DREAMers. They have, in short, chosen to exploit vulnerable children to protect their political hides.

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, Deputy Managing Director at United We Dream, said:

If a little boy or a little girl knocks at your door seeking help would you not let them come inside? Central American children are fleeing violence and to send them back is to send them to their death-bed. Republicans have politicized this issue to advocate for the mass deportation of Dreamers. President Obama has a chance to go big and expand on the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA). We expect nothing less from President Obama than bold leadership.

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, concluded:

Every day there’s more extreme rhetoric and more extreme policy proposals coming out of the GOP.  Instead of responding to the current situation with sober policymaking, they’re using the children’s plight to try to advance their anti-immigrant wish list.  Today they’re voting to strip the child tax credit from taxpaying immigrant families. Next it will be another vote to end DACA and subject DREAMers to deportation.  When it comes to immigration, the GOP is reaching new levels of absurdity with every passing day.  At the same time, this means expectations for reasonable policy changes are increasingly focused on responsible Democrats and the Administration.  We expect them to act boldly to address the status of refugee children and the millions of immigrants who are rooted already in the United States.

Listen to a recording from today’s call here.

View the latest Center for American Progress reports, A Way Forward on Child Refugees, here and Citizenship Matters: How Children of Immigrants Will Sway the Future of Politics, here.  Their “TalkPoverty” fact sheet on Republicans’ attempts to gut the Child Tax Credit is available here

View United We Dream’s 5 Things Obama Can Do Right Now infographic here.

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.