For the second time in as many weeks, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez appeared on the House Floor beside a picture of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to rail against the candidate’s comments about Mexican immigrants.
In a floor speech Wednesday centered again on Trump, Gutiérrez called for Latinos to become citizens, create “a new American coalition” and vote against Republicans.
“You should understand that when Donald Trump said Mexican immigrants are criminals, what do I and other Puerto Ricans hear? I hear him saying all Puerto Ricans are criminals. And as far as Republicans are concerned, we all are,” he said. “And millions of others here, Hondurans and Dominicans. And it is clear to all of us what he is really saying is that all Latinos are suspect whether we were born here or not.”
Gutiérrez argued that all immigrants have faced similar criticisms when they first arrived in the U.S. and that Latinos should follow in their footsteps and become citizens.
“So I say that Latinos should do what the Irish, Polish, and Italians did: Become citizens and vote. To my constituents and anyone today that is offended by what Donald Trump stands for, I have a simple message..become a citizen,” he said.
Gutiérrez explained that there are over 8.8 million immigrants in the U.S. today who meet the requirements to naturalize.
“That includes about 5 million Latinos who can apply to become citizens today. And, Mr. Speaker, let me fill you in on a little secret with fee waivers, up to 20 percent of all of those 8.8 million will pay absolutely nothing for their citizenship application,” he said.
“Becoming a citizen for free so you can make it clear that you are offended by Donald Trump is poetic and patriotic,” Gutiérrez continued. “Rather than renew your green card for $450, become a citizen for about $230 more. Or zero if you’re part of the 20 percent.”
The Illinois Democrat noted that since “almost all of the immigrants in this country are going to remain in this country until the day they die, let’s be honest,” those who qualify should take that next step and become a citizen. He further called for Trump to be an inspiration for those Latinos to study and pass the citizenship test.
“If millions of people naturalized, become citizens and we add to that the million latino citizens who this year will turn 18, plus all our allies in the African-American community, the LGBT voters and younger voters, environmental voters, women voters, Asian voters, union voters that are being pushed away by the Republican party, all the people they don’t want in their coalition constitute a majority of Americans,” he said. “Together we are the new American coalition that will dominate politics for decades to come and together we will create a stronger, more inclusive and more equalitarian nation.”
Gutiérrez concluded with an additional dig at Trump, saying, “Let’s turn Trump’s negative words into something positive, that is how you deal with bullies and bigots.”