Photo: Gutierrez on Immigration
Today, a delegation from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) met with President Obama at the White House to discuss immigration reform. The president reiterated that immigration reform would be his top legislative priority and that the principles adopted by the CHC in November are in line with what the President wants in immigration reform. CHC Chairman Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) led the delegation that included the three other officers of the CHC, plus Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and CHC Immigration Task Force Chair Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez. The following is a statement from Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL):
Immigrants need action now and immigration reform cannot wait. We have a unique opportunity to finally put our government on the side of hard-working immigrants. We all need to work together—the President and Congress, Republicans and Democrats—to get something done right away.
The President is the quarterback and he will direct the team, call the play, and be pivotal if we succeed. I am very optimistic based on conversations with Republicans in the House and Senate that we will do more than just talk about the immigration issue this year. The President putting his full weight and attention behind getting a bill signed into law is tremendously helpful. We need the President and the American people all putting pressure on the Congress to act because nothing happens in the Capitol without people pushing from the outside.
For my community is Chicago, the biggest issue is the deportations and keeping families together, not putting kids in foster care or uprooting them when parents are deported. Family unity is the urgency behind reforming our immigration system. Every day that passes, another 1,000 people are deported and hundreds of kids, U.S. citizen kids, lose a parent to deportation. We have got to act and act quickly.
We spend more money on immigration enforcement than all other federal law enforcement combined. The day has to come when the federal government concentrates our resources on removing criminals, murderers, smugglers and kidnappers and not on deporting working men and women raising families and contributing to our economy.
The process or strategy for getting a bill is complicated, but the policy is straight-forward and builds on the bills I co-authored with Ted Kennedy, John McCain, and Jeff Flake. The problems have not changed in the last six or eight years and the solutions are pretty clear. We need a secure border and an electronic employment verification system that is combined with a generous and rigorous legalization program to get immigrants already living here on-the-books and in the system. We also need visas and visa reform for the people waiting decades to come here and a system for the future that people and employers will actually use and not try to go around. All of this is achievable if Republicans work with Democrats and that work has already begun.