A day after voters resoundingly rejected President Barack Obama’s plans for massive executive amnesty in the midterms, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said Obama’s first act should be to give amnesty to eight million illegal immigrants, which would be comparable in scope to the Senate’s Gang of Eight amnesty bill.
Gutierrez argued that “taking action is the first step in restoring orderliness and lawfulness to our immigration system” and urged Obama to “do as much good as you can do.”
“The president of the United States should act swiftly and use the powers he already has under existing law to address immigration and deportation — as soon as possible,” he wrote in a Wednesday op-ed in the Guardian. “With the midterms behind us, taking action is the first step in restoring orderliness and lawfulness to our immigration system. And if it spurs the reincarnated do-nothing Congress to take action, all the better. Do as much good as you can do, Mr President, to save American families.”
Gutierrez, who demanded “interest” in the form of a broader executive amnesty after the White House asked for “forbearance” after Obama missed his self-imposed “by the end of summer” deadline, said he did not know if Obama’s forthcoming executive amnesty will “amount to half-a-loaf, a full loaf or just a few slices.”
“I think there is only one path to success, and it will set the stage for future legislation to modernize our immigration system. Success on immigration means a full approach to reform, which to me means expanding protections to 5 to 8 million undocumented people currently living in this country. Go big, President Obama,” he urged. “President Obama cannot do with executive actions all of the things that the comprehensive Senate bill would have done. But he can act – on a comparable scale – to improve our security and reduce the destruction that mass deportations have unleashed in America’s families.”
Gutierrez claimed it is “in our national interest” to pass amnesty legislation and even implied that it will be more difficult for employers to “exploit and undercut U.S.-born workers” after amnesty legislation is passed. Numerous experts and studies, though, have found that massive amnesty legislation and the granting of work permits to illegal immigrants and guest workers would lower the wages of American workers.
“So, let’s move forward, Mr President. Let’s take as many people out of the deportation queue as possible. With limited resources and 10.5 million immigrants who could be deported, the president and the Department of Homeland Security must prioritize,” he said. “If you commit a serious crime, represent a danger to America, or if you are preying on your community, you should get deported first.”
Arguing for a “full-loaf approach” to executive action, Gutierrez said a “half-a-loaf or less would fail to reduce the stress that mass deportation is putting on federal and immigration courts” and warned that anything less than a full-loaf approach will “galvanize those left behind and their families to criticize the president.” Gutierrez, who predicted a “civil war” among Democrats and Latinos if Obama does not go big on executive amnesty, told MSNBC on election night that Obama’s legacy will be written in the “next 45 days when it comes vis a vis the immigration policy of this president.”
An exasperated Gutierrez also told MSNBC that, “If we are going to allow the Republicans’ threat of impeachment from stopping fairness and justice for our community, then you know what? Why don’t we all become Republicans then?” He said Democrats “have to stand for our values and our principles.”
“We should not be halfway committed to justice, prosecutorial discretion and taking definitive action,” he added in his op-ed.
Gutierrez did concede that “Congress can still change what the president orders,” which Republicans have also argued. But Gutierrez meant that Congress can enact an even more permanent and broader amnesty through comprehensive legislation.