“I think the President will have the courage to act. And then it will be the Congress’ turn.”
Washington, DC –-(ENEWSPF)–November 10, 2014. This morning during the 10 am hour (ET), Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL-4) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives on immigration and the President’s decision to delay an announcement of executive actions on deportations and other immigration matters.
He said, “I have made it clear that from a political standpoint in the short-run and the long-run, I think the President should have taken action before Election Day,” and added, “I know the President has heard all of these arguments and I don’t think I will convince him to change his mind — again — and move forward with key improvements to our deportation policies before November 4.”
But then the Congressman went on to make two points, that the legal arguments against the President taking executive action have been settled and that the President will be “going big, going broad, and going quickly after Election Day” as a way of prodding Republicans to action.
Referring to his Republican colleagues who control the agenda in the House, the Congressman said, “I don’t see the President saying he will act if you do not act, as we have been saying for two years. This time, I see the President acting first. Laying out a broad array of executive actions to mitigate the damage that is being done to the country by congressional inaction on immigration reform.”
“If the Republicans are so inclined, they can take legislative action,” he continued. “It is what we have been begging you to do for two decades on this issue.”
He concluded, “I think the President will have the courage to act. And then it will be the Congress’ turn.”
A video of his speech is here: http://youtu.be/y1yjQHnIPUA
The Congressman’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez represents the Fourth District of Illinois, is a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, and is the Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
My press secretary has kept me pretty busy the last few days, talking on national and local TV about the President’s decision to delay executive action on immigration… in two languages.
I have made it clear that from a political standpoint in the short-run and the long-run, I think the President should have taken action before Election Day in order to be more transparent with the American people about the policy we all know is coming.
It makes the job harder for me to generate enthusiasm among Americans to vote at all, let alone enthusiasm for voting for Democrats when there are members of my own Party asking the President to hold his pen and his phone in abeyance until after voters vote.
From a policy standpoint, every week we delay is bad for the country.
From a humanitarian perspective, deporting the parents of U.S. citizens is not in our national interest;
Making it impossible for spouses of legal immigrants and citizens to pick up the visas that have already been issued to them is not in our national interest;
And keeping the fear of deportation hovering over immigrant communities like Pilsen and Little Village in my District in Chicago has a damaging impact on the fabric of our community. It dampens the economy along commercial thoroughfares like 26th Street, a key engine of the Chicago economy and tax-base.
Perhaps more important to those living outside of immigrant communities is to know that, when the President acts, he will announce a tough-but-fair solution for millions of immigrants who do not have visas or any way of getting visas, but who have lived and worked here peacefully for years, even decades.
It would work something like this: if they come forward, if they submit their fingerprints at their own expense to the FBI and if they pass a rigorous criminal background check and meet other requirements, we will issue them a biometric identification card that says they are not a priority for deportation.
Not only do we get them in the system and on the books, but now they are in a program that needs to be renewed periodically with strict rules. This creates a huge incentive not to violate the rules of the program or the rules of society.
I know the President has heard all of these arguments and I don’t think I will convince him to change his mind — again — and move forward with key improvements to our deportation policies before November 4.
But let us also be clear, I think he has already made two important decisions.
Number 1, there is no longer any question that the President of the United States has the legal authority to act on immigration and deportations under current law. Even Republicans, who have hired the best lawyers at taxpayer expense to prepare their lawsuit against the President, agree and excluded immigration in their far-fetched list of presidential “overreaches.”
This is settled law and despite the shouts of talk-radio and a few on the Republican side, there is no longer a serious debate about the rock-solid legal ground from which the President can act — and has already acted.
Secondly, I think the President has decided that going big, going broad, and going quickly after Election Day is the right decision.
Because he and Secretary Jeh Johnson have to set enforcement priorities about which people they deport first and which people they deport last based on the national security and economic interests of this country, he will act. He will act up to the limits of current law.
And believe me, I can hear the cries from the other side. ‘He can’t act because we may try to do something on immigration in the lame duck.’
‘He can’t act because we are going to put the bipartisan coalition back together in the new 114th Congress that will get reform passed in both Houses.’
‘We were just kidding when we said all that after Election Day in 2012,’ the Republicans will say. ‘This time we really mean it because 2016 and the Electoral College are staring us in the face.’
But no, I don’t think the President and the Democrats will fall for that again. I don’t see the President saying he will act if you do not act, as we have been saying for two years.
This time, I see the President acting first. Laying out a broad array of executive actions to mitigate the damage that is being done to the country by congressional inaction on immigration reform.
If the Republicans are so inclined, they can take legislative action.
It is what we have been begging you to do for two decades on this issue.
We may even work with you if you are serious about it.
But it will no longer be accepted as a delaying tactic for action by the executive branch. It will be a response to presidential action.
I think the President will have the courage to act. And then it will be the Congress’ turn.