Gutierrez: Trump, GOP Have Fought Immigration System Based on ‘Rule of Law’

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) argued that some Republicans, such as Donald Trump, oppose an immigration system “based on common sense, compassion, and, yes, the rule of law” in a speech on the House floor on Thursday.

Gutierrez began, “For the record, I’m not Mexican, I’m not an immigrant, given the rhetoric of one of the leading Republican candidates for president, it’s important to point that out at the start, before I’m accused of being a criminal, a drug dealer, or a rapist. To be fair, Donald Trump didn’t say all Latinos or all Mexicans are rapists, just that the vast majority of Mexicans immigrants are rapists, drug dealers, and criminals. Clearly, if anyone has firsthand knowledge of Mexican immigrants working in the United States, it should be the owner of a hotel, casino, office building, or a clothing line. But Trump doesn’t seem to be basing his opinions about Mexican immigrants on personal knowledge. To justify his claims, Trump says that most of the women coming from Central America to the US through Mexico and other countries report being sexually assaulted. On this point, he and I have some agreement. Women and children at the lowest rung of our economic and social ladder are incredibly vulnerable to sexual assault and rape. But the leap from saying that most undocumented women are vulnerable to assault and saying most undocumented men are rapists is, as he might say himself, huge. The documentary on PBS ‘Frontline,’ ‘Rape in the Fields,’ was a powerful exposé on how immigrant women toiling in our fields are regularly the victims of rape, abuse because perpetrators recognize how vulnerable immigrant women are. They are afraid to talk to the police, afraid they will be deported, and afraid they will lose their children, and this fear to report crimes makes us all less safe. Yes, the rape and abuse is sometimes perpetrated by other Latino immigrants, perhaps even Mexicans. But these crimes are also committed by men of all colors and national origins, including red, white and blue Americans. So, when Donald Trump says on CNN, well, someone is doing the raping, as further evidence we should be building a big wall so he can plaster his name on it and keep immigrants out, I think it’s pretty clear that Donald misses the point.”

He continued, “The question is how do we create an immigration system that protects us from criminals and that allows people come with visas, and not smugglers so that their work is honored, safe, protected by our labor laws? How do we make sure that these workers who contribute so much to America’s economy are not afraid to dial 911 and report wage theft or assault when someone, anyone is threatening them or their families? Now, the anti-immigration wing of the Republican Party in this body and on the air is saying that Trump may have a point. After all, a beautiful, innocent woman was shot in cold blood by a Mexican immigrant in San Francisco just last week. Why wasn’t he deported? Why wasn’t he held in jail the last time? Why is, and you will actually hear this on Fox News, why is President Obama letting Mexicans kill beautiful young American women?”

Gutierrez then stated, “As the father of two daughters, about the age of Kate Steinle, the young woman who was shot and killed, I pray every night that no one of any racial ethnic background ever does my daughters harm, and I can only imagine the grief that her family is feeling. When we have felons in federal custody or state or local custody with warrants for drug crimes who are deported multiple times and come back, this Congress has not done its job, unfairly leaving states and localities to cope with decades of inaction on immigration, criminal justice, and a range of other issues. I have no sympathy for the man accused this crime. Murderers should rot in hell.”

He concluded, “So what if we have a system that allowed people who have lived here a long time, contributed productively to American society, and who have children and other deep roots in the United States, what if we allowed them to come forward? What if we made them pay for their own criminal background check, fingerprinted them, made them prove their identity, and check on them ever so often to make sure that they’re not gaming the system or committing crime? What if we had a system where people came here legally in the first place if they could prove their identity and that they had no criminal background? I argue that such a system would allow us to reduce significantly the number of people who are in this company — country without legal status. It would shrink the size of communities where many people are undocumented, where people are afraid to call the police so that criminals find it easy to blend in, and not stick out. Such a system would allow us to concentrate our enforcement and deportation resources on real criminals who should be jailed and then thrown out and kept out. Such a system would make it easier, make it harder for criminals to hide, and easier for honest, hardworking folks to contribute to their communities without fear. Unfortunately, that is exactly the system that some Republicans have been fighting against. So, when a hotel and casino owner gets on his high horse about Mexican immigrants, about crime and rape and murder, let’s think about who is standing between the United States, this country, the one we love, and that we’ve sworn to protect, and a modern immigration system based on common sense, compassion, and, yes, the rule of law.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett