Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a vocal advocate of immigration reform, told Breitbart News on Wednesday, “Shame on anybody that wants to demonize children” who are entering the country without guardians or documentation.
Gutierrez defended the surge of unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors flooding border states from Central America, saying the individuals would not qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a directive signed by President Obama in June of 2012 calling for deferred action for particular illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have pursued education or military service in the country.
However, Gutierrez still says that those unaccompanied minors coming into the U.S. should still be given a safe place to stay.
“Were you 17 years old ever? I was a kid. I was a child. I couldn’t fend for myself when I was 17 years old and neither could my own children. The fact is the average age of a child arriving is 14. Half of them are girls. There’s a vast network of people trafficking in human beings and anybody that doesn’t know that go to the United Nations report from last month of April,” he said. “Honduras–murder capitol of the world, and among the ten top countries it’s followed by El Salvador and Guatemala. I know these are the facts. Why would children come from those countries? Now we have a policy in the United States that when they arrive we have to find them a safe place. That’s a very sensible policy we have here in the United States.”
According to The Christian Science Monitor, “During the decade preceding fiscal year 2012, the federal government agency tasked with caring for unaccompanied minors who cross the border illegally dealt with an average of 7,000 to 8,000 cases a year… In fiscal year 2011, the number was 6,560. The following year, however, the number jumped to 13,625. This fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2014, federal officials are estimating that the number could be 80,000, according to an internal memo cited by The New York Times.”
Although DACA is not supposed to apply to any non-citizen entering the U.S. presently and only those who came into the country before June 15, 2007, are eligible, critics of DACA say that the directive was opportunity to cause confusion and misinformation.
Asked by Breitbart News how border agents should be dealing with massive influx of individuals crossing the border while trying to handle other duties, Gutierrez replied, “Listen, it’s very clear this is a humanitarian crisis. I want to make it clear. You know something? Shame on anybody that wants to demonize children that reach our shores, OK? I turn on the TV all the time and watch the [televangelists] get on TV and say, ‘Give me money to feed the poor.’ No. they tell us to feed the poor, because there’s a humanitarian crisis in Asia and in Africa and other parts of the world… They’re children.”
“Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told CSM.
When Breitbart News pointed out that local media outlets in Central America were reporting that the United States was offering amnesty to any minor who made it to the border, Gutierrez responded, “What do you want me to do? You think I control the local media down there? I mean, c’mon. I mean, share with me a small break here. Now I’m in charge of the local media in Guatemala and EL Salvador? I can’t answer for the local media in El Salvador. I’m only telling you they’re children. And what you’re trying to do is now demonize children and I’m not gonna have it.”