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Representative Gutierrez Challenges Judiciary Chairman to Work with Democrats on Immigration Reform

“If we can vote 45 times to gut Obamacare — and we have another vote scheduled this week — why can the Republican Leadership not find the time to schedule one vote on immigration?” — Rep. Gutiérrez

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 14, 2013.  Yesterday, as the House Judiciary Committee met to discuss entry/exit visa systems, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) challenged Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to work with Democrats to address immigration reform.  Last week, the third ranking Republican Leader, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), stated that the Congress did not have time to deal with immigration reform in 2013.  Yet this week, the Judiciary Committee meets again to discuss — but not actually legislate — an aspect of immigration reform on which there is broad agreement and the four partisan Republican-only bills the Committee has already passed on immigration are going nowhere because they do not have sufficient support among Republicans.  Congressman Gutiérrez, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said “Mr. Chairman, they say that where there is a will, there is a way and I think there is time to get something done [on immigration], but I don’t believe the Republican Party has the will to do it.  Mr. Chairman, please prove me wrong.”

The following are the Congressman’s remarks from the hearing as prepared for delivery.


November 13, 2013

Mr. Chairman, it is important to note that this hearing happens within a context of inaction on immigration reform.

I have been in the Congress for more than two decades and we have debated the merits of an Entry/Exit system many, many times.  I support the implementation of an effective Entry/Exit system and have included it in immigration bills I have authored. 

But here is the situation: Last week, the Number 3 Republican, Kevin McCarthy of California, said that there is not enough time in the schedule for the Congress to pass anything on immigration in 2013. 

While the economy in Bakersfield depends on agriculture and agriculture depends on immigrants, there will be no bill in 2013, Representative McCarthy said.

And why will there be no bill?

One need look no further than this Committee to get a big part of the answer. 

Earlier this year, during the period of time when Republicans seemed to have learned the lesson everyone else learned from the last election and seemed open to addressing immigration reform in a serious way, all we got were partisan bills in this committee to make things worse.

We had a stand-alone E-Verify bill that zero Democrats could vote for because it did not legalize the current workforce and would encourage a black market of smugglers and document forgers.

We had an agricultural guest worker bill that zero Democrats could support because it requires every undocumented farm worker to eventually leave the country and was opposed by the farmworker’s union and the major agricultural growers. 

We had a STEM visas bill that actually reduced legal immigration by eliminating the Diversity Visa and sibling visa category and driving more immigrants into the black market. 

And we had the SAFE Act, the very definition of a poison pill, which takes the Supreme Court ruling that struck down major parts of Arizona’s racial profiling bill, SB 1070, and tried to make that the law of the land by forcing state and local police to enforce civil federal immigration law.  It is a bill that undermines the safety of whole communities in our Districts that even major law enforcement associations, chiefs of police, and sheriffs opposed and not surprisingly, not a single Democrat could support this bill either.

So we have had four thoroughly partisan bills pushed through the Committee and not a single one is scheduled for any floor time.

Why?  It isn’t just that the Majority realizes that they have crafted bad legislation.

No.   The real reason is that the partisan bills passed by this Committee do not have the votes.

Clearly the Democrats and I truly believe many Republicans, will not support these measures that hurt immigrants and industries and are not real solutions.

And even though many Republicans do support punitive measures, there is a caucus of anti-immigration Members within the Republican Caucus — some of whom sit on this panel — who will not support any measure no matter how anti-immigrant it is because they fear that the door could be opened to a Conference Committee with the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate with about a third of the Republicans voting in favor.

So a strictly partisan plan is not working.  There are not enough Republican votes to cross the magic threshold of 218 votes. 

You have to work with Democrats if you are serious about immigration reform or an Entry/Exit system or E-Verify or visas to keep American agriculture or high-tech in business.

Now, I can count on my side too.  While I have 201 Democrats and almost every single one of them would vote for a sensible immigration reform measure — I know I need Republicans to cross the finish line.

So, the question becomes: Mr. Chairman When will your side act to preserve families, protect our borders, honor legal immigrants, and restore the rule of law?

When will your side join my side in helping the agricultural industry, the hospitality industry, the restaurant industry, the high-tech sector or the service sector of our economy remain competitive and remain viable in the country?  And when will workers in those industries be protected from the black market that undercuts wages and worker safety?

And when will it be safe for a woman to call the police in her own community when she is the victim of a crime without fear that the immigration authorities will come with them to take her children and destroy her family? 

I know… I have been told by Republican pollsters not to use the ‘heart strings’ arguments when speaking to Republicans because they don’t find such arguments helpful in swaying Republicans. 

But 100,000 people have been deported since the Senate passed its bill.

Another 17,000 will be deported by the time we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner in two weeks.  By Christmas morning, we will have lost another 45,000.

Mr. Chairman when will you start working with Democrats on real reform?  When will we see the Kids Act?  When will we see a legalization bill?  

The sense of urgency in my community is very different than the non-existent sense of urgency in the Republican Party.  The time to act is now. 

If we can vote 45 times to gut Obamacare and have another vote scheduled this week, why can the Republican Leadership not find the time to schedule one vote on immigration? 

Mr. Chairman, they say that where there is a will there is a way and I think there is time to get something done, but I don’t believe the Republican Party has the will to do it.  Mr. Chairman, please prove me wrong.

Source: gutierrez.house.gov



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