Luis Gutierrez 2016? It could happen.
Left-wing Latino activists are reportedly getting ready to launch a “Draft Gutierrez” movement to lure Rep. Gutierrez, the 10-term Democrat from Illinois who has been one of the most vocal proponents of massive amnesty legislation, into the presidential race if President Barack Obama does not go big enough on his executive amnesty.
“I’m not running for president,” Gutierrez told ChicagoBusiness.com. But the outlet noted that “he repeatedly declined to say whether he might change his mind if the Chicagoan who now holds the job, Barack Obama, fails to deliver on his promise to enact significant national immigration reform in late fall, right after the Nov. 4 election.”
Emma Lozano, “a local activist who heads the group Centro Sin Fronteras,” recently emailed supporters and “said her group plans to begin collecting signatures on draft-Gutierrez petitions on Nov. 4 and will act if the president does not deliver by Nov. 27.” Saying she was “tired of being lied to” and “our community deserves respect,” Lozano told ChicagoBusiness.com’s Greg Hinz that, “If President Obama betrays us again, then let it be the final time. We will march and run our own Latino independent candidate. Join us in drafting Congressman Gutierrez.”
Doug Scofield, a “longtime Gutierrez confidant,” told the outlet that Lozano “wouldn’t be doing this if Luis didn’t want her to.”
Liberal activists who do not trust Hillary Clinton on the issues may have another candidate to consider in Gutierrez, who could enter the presidential contest like Jesse Jackson did in the 1984, as Scofield noted. And Gutierrez would hold liberal politicians to account on amnesty legislation much like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), his ideological counterpart on amnesty, would on the right if he were to enter the GOP presidential field.
During the debate over comprehensive amnesty legislation, Gutierrez emerged as the national leader of the pro-amnesty movement and has galvanized liberals, especially left-wing Hispanic activists and DREAMers, with his rhetoric and by confronting the Obama administration and Republicans.
Gutierrez, who recently vowed to leave no illegal immigrant behind in pursuit of amnesty, reportedly demanded “interest” from the White House in the form of a broader executive amnesty when the White House asked Gutierrez and Hispanic leaders for “forbearance” for missing the “by the end of summer” deadline for executive amnesty. Obama has promised to enact an executive amnesty by the end of this year.
Gutierrez recently told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would be “derelict in my duty to protect America” if he voted for a border security bill before a comprehensive amnesty legislation. He told attendees at La Raza’s annual convention that Obama’s Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals was merely a “down payment” for more amnesty. He said Obama promised him in private meetings that he would do what it takes to stop the “deportation of our people.” And he urged Hispanic activists to seek “retribution” once they get amnesty and punish American citizens at the ballot box who opposed massive amnesty legislation.
“We need to raise our voices, make ourselves citizens, sign up to vote and punish those who speak ill and criminalize children who come to our border,” said Gutierrez, who also declared that Republicans “despise and hate all of our children.“
A potential Gutierrez candidacy may push Clinton further to the left. and his pro-amnesty views would be tested among working-class black Democrats who dominate in Southern primary states.
Blacks made up more than half of Democratic primary voters — nearly 80 percent of whom voted for Obama in the 2008 primary — in the crucial first-in-the-South state of South Carolina in 2008. And as Breitbart News has reported, only 13 percent of black Democrats complained in a recent Pew Research national poll that “Democrats are not pushing harder to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country” compared to 40 percent of Hispanics. In a recent address to the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner, Obama was silent on the amnesty issue, as Breitbart News reported.
U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has warned the Congressional Black Caucus and President Barack Obama about “the disastrous effect of illegal immigration on the employment of all Americans, but particularly black Americans.”
“Any grant of legal status will serve as a magnet to prospective illegal immigrants and further depress employment opportunities and wages for African-Americans,” Kirsanow wrote Obama in August. “Given that the labor force participation rate is at an historic low, the unemployment rate is 6.2 percent, and there has been a precipitous decline in household wealth, the timing for such a grant of legal status could not be worse.”
Hispanics are more in favor of amnesty programs than black or white Democrats, according to Pew, and Clinton did considerably better with Hispanic voters than Obama in 2008. Gutierrez would draw a significant amount of support from that demographic should he run.
According to Pew Hispanic Research, in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, “Latino voters comprised 30 percent of the turnout (up from 16 percent in 2004)” in California and “32 percent of the turnout (up from 24 percent in 2004)” in Texas. Latinos made up 15 percent of the vote in the Nevada caucuses. They voted for Clinton over Obama “by a margin of nearly two-to-one,” and Clinton would have lost Texas and California had it not been for the Latino vote. In 2008, Latino turnout increased in 16 of the 19 Democratic primary states in which exit polling allowed Pew to compare “2008 and 2004 turnout shares.” In addition, exit polling on Super Tuesday 2008 found that “Hispanics were more likely than whites to say that race was an important factor in deciding their vote–28 percent of Hispanics said this compared with 13 percent of whites.”
Clinton has had trouble dealing with immigration. In 2008, her demise arguably started after the late Tim Russert grilled her on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and could not give a straight answer. As potential 2016 candidates like Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have tried to move to the left of Clinton, saying that illegal immigrants from Central America should not be sent back to “certain death,” Clinton has struggled again in dealing with the issue. She told a CNN town hall that illegal immigrant juveniles from Central America should be sent back, which prompted Fusion’s Jorge Ramos to ask her if she had a “Latino problem.” Clinton did tell Ramos that she did support pre-screening migrants in their home countries to determine whether they qualify for asylum. The Obama administration subsequently announced that it would grant asylum to 4,000 individuals from Central American nations and set up in-country screening facilities in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Pro-amnesty DREAMer activists have already confronted Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) in addition to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). And they have vowed to escalate their confrontations during the primary season and pester candidates from both parties. A potential Gutierrez candidacy would only embolden them even more.