After meeting with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, along with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) expressed frustration that the White House was not treating illegal immigrants as well as gays and other special interest groups.
Gutierrez did so, even though, according to the White House, Obama “reaffirmed” that he would use executive actions to fix “as much of our broken immigration system” as he can. Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he has asked Secretary of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder “to conduct a thorough review that produces recommendations before the end of the summer.” Obama also said that the only permanent solution to the immigration crisis is passing comprehensive amnesty legislation.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged Obama to go big on executive actions to ease deportations and grant more temporary amnesty to illegal immigrants in the country, and Gutierrez said he was perturbed that Democrats have ceded terrain to Republicans on the illegal immigration issue. He said Democrats do not relent on issues important to other special interest groups that make up the modern liberal coalition.
“We don’t do it when it comes to the LGBT community, we don’t do it when it comes to the environment, we don’t do it when it comes to workers’ rights, we don’t do it when it comes to the rights of women. Why on immigration can’t we just stand solidly on our principles and say, here are our values?” he said, according to BuzzFeed. “We can’t just go at the next election, ‘Oh, we’re not as bad as the other guy.'”
Others who attended the meeting said illegal immigrant children who are detained should receive more lawyers, and they noted that they would not vote for a funding bill that undermined the due process rights of illegal immigrant children. They also insisted that Obama act alone, via executive actions, in the absence of comprehensive amnesty legislation in Congress.
“It is not enough to try to understand the situation; we must find a solution, and if Congress isn’t going to take action, the President should,” Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) said in a statement. “Every day that passes, children and families in Central America continue to suffer and encounter perilous conditions as they attempt to flee violent and dangerous situations in their countries.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) reportedly said that after meeting with Obama, he was optimistic the President could enact fixes through legislation and executive actions.