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Rep. Gutierrez Reminds GOP: 30 Legislative Days to Act on Immigration Reform or President Obama Will, ‘The Choice is Yours’

Quotes Letter from Three GOP Judiciary Chairmen Stressing Need and Legal Justification for Administrative Relief

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 8, 2014.  This morning, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives to remind Republicans that time is running out if they plan to do anything legislatively on immigration.  And the consequence of their inaction will be action on the part of the President to spare immigrants from deportation.

Buoyed by new data on deportations and a forceful national call on President Obama to dial back deportations for those with deep roots in the U.S. and no criminal history, Rep. Gutiérrez said, the President is on firm legal ground in taking executive action along the lines of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program announced in 2012 that made 1.2 million DREAMers eligible to apply for temporary protection from deportation.

“Tomorrow, on Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will have a special meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson… We will present him with a memo that lays out options the Obama Administration has under current law to protect more immigrants from deportation along the lines of the Deferred Action for DREAMers program Republicans have voted repeatedly to eliminate.”

A draft of the confidential CHC memo was leaked to various media outlets last week, including the Washington Post.

The Congressman referred to an enlarged copy of a 1999 letter signed by 28 Republicans and Democrats, including three former Republican Chairmen of the Judiciary Committee, that confirms the President’s legal foundation in exercising prosecutorial discretion to protect immigrants from deportation.

A video of the Congressman’s speech today is here: http://youtu.be/yFtrSOgup34

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 Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, and is the Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

# # #

Luis Gutiérrez Remarks, April 8, 2014

Thank you Mr. Speaker, this is my weekly reminder to House Republicans that they only have 30 legislative days left before the July 4th recess.  In that time they had better allow a vote on immigration reform or the President will take executive action to reform our immigration system. 

The chance to save the Republican Party from being a regional party — and not a national one — rests on what Republican Leaders do with the next 30 legislative days. 

If they deny justice, security and dignity to our brothers and sisters with foreign hands who work every day in America’s fields to plant and pick our vegetables, the Republican Party is giving up the chance for their brothers and sisters with Republican hands to plant or pick vegetables in the White House’s vegetable garden anytime soon. 

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will have a special meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson…

We will present him with a memo that lays out options the Obama Administration has under current law to protect more immigrants from deportation along the lines of the Deferred Action for DREAMers program Republicans have voted repeatedly to eliminate.

The important phrase here is, “under current law.”

In February of 2011 the CHC delivered a memo to the President outlining specific actions he could take within existing law to keep families together, spare military families, and yes, spare those who would qualify for the DREAM Act – protecting them temporarily and on a case-by-case basis from deportation using tools in the law like deferred action, parole, and hardship waivers.

Our position was strengthened in April of that year by a paper called “Executive Branch Authority Regarding Implementation of Immigration Laws and Policies.”

The report, with all the legal citations is right here and was written by Bo Cooper, who served as general counsel at the INS and by Paul Virtue, who also served as general counsel at INS, along with four other attorneys who are experts in immigration law.

The report said “The executive branch, through the Secretary of Homeland Security, can exercise discretion not to prosecute a case by granting ‘deferred action’ to an otherwise removable or deportable immigrant.”

Only a month before Deferred Action for DREAMers was announced, a letter signed with footnotes and citations was sent to the President from more than 100 law professors at America’s top law schools and universities who concluded that the President had the power under existing law to grant deferred action to DREAMers.

But legal scholars and research are not always enough to persuade my friends in the Republican Conference.

Almost every single one of them voted for the King amendment defunding Deferred Action last year and voted this year to sue the President if they want over immigration enforcement. 

They are rejecting these arguments as some sort of academic hoax.

So, as I have done in the past, I ask that you not just take my word for it… or the word of legal experts and hundreds of law professors.

I ask that you take the word of your former Judiciary Chairmen – three of them — when it comes to immigration and deportation.

Here is a letter from November 1999 where at least 28 Republicans and Democrats called on President Clinton to exercise prosecutorial discretion when it came to deportations and immigration enforcement.

“There has been widespread agreement that some deportations were unfair and resulted in unjustifiable hardship.”

Over here it says “The principle of prosecutorial discretion is well-established.”

“Optimally, removal proceedings should be initiated or terminated only upon specific instructions from authorized INS officials, issued in accordance with agency guidelines.”

And they go on to urge that those guidelines be issued from headquarters just as the CHC is urging the current President to issue guidelines for initiation or termination of deportation proceedings today.

Here is Lamar Smith’s signature, I see James Sensenbrenner, and Henry Hyde, just to mention a few.

Mr. Speaker, three former Republican Chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee…The legal foundation upon which this opinion rests is as rock-solid as their conservative credentials.

And yet, to this day, the Republican Caucus has not come up with an immigration bill or a series of bills of their own…

The American people are still waiting for Republicans to write their own bills or amend the one sent to us by a two-thirds bipartisan majority in the Senate.

And I am here to remind you that time is running out.

If you fail to act, President Obama will act to spare millions of immigrants from deportation. 

The choice is yours.

Source: gutierrez.house.gov

 

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