The proposal was part of an address delivered by the Congressman in Rhode Island Saturday to a crowd of “hundreds of legal immigrants and illegal aliens.”
Gutierrez plans to take his message on the road, speaking at events across the country. His goal is to “convince President Obama to limit removals only to those illegal aliens convicted of serious crimes.” Apparently ignoring, therefore, the fact that the mere presence of an illegal alien is itself the violation of applicable federal and state laws.
The speech was delivered mostly in Spanish to a group gathered at Oliver Hazard Perry Middle School in Providence.
The Chicago-born lawmaker was joined by several colleagues including Representatives Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) who also spoke at the press conference.
Part of the proposal, which some have described as “amnesty by another name,” would permit illegal alien spouses of citizens to remain in the country, as well.
At the media event, Gutierrez said that he plans to collect statements from illegal aliens and send them to President Obama in order to persuade the President to “use the discretion the law already confers on him” to create and carry out the Congressman’s “parole-in-place” scheme.
Congressman Gutierrez is accustomed to taking controversial stands on immigration. On May 1, 2010, Gutierrez was arrested at an immigration rally outside the White House in Washington, D.C. He was among those gathered to protest enactment of S.B. 1070, the Arizona statute aimed at removing those illegally present in the Grand Canyon State.
Also, Gutierrez, the chairman of the the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force for the 110th Congress, is reportedly a chairman of the Immigration Task Force established by the United Association for Labor Education. According to the association’s website:
The mission of the UALE Immigration Task Force is to provide labor educators with the resources they require to effectively build and strengthen the labor movement by incorporating immigrant workers into the ranks of organized labor.
The task force will do this by engaging in activities that assist in the collection, development, and dissemination of educational materials to help shape a stronger, more unified labor movement firmly grounded on the foundation of social and economic justice; racial, gender, and LGBT equality; and civil and human rights.
Regardless of the depth of his affiliation with the group, Gutierrez’s legislative efforts seem to support the goals of the UALE. In a statement at a rally held in the nation’s capital, the Congressman described his own proposal for “comprehensive immigration reform,” the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009. The bill was penned by the former Chicago City Councilman.
My bill will promote fair immigration proceedings, humane treatment of immigration detainees, and policies that respect the tenet of community policing. No more raids in our community, no more separation of our families. Now, none of this works without a strong commitment to America’s labor force. None of it works without a strong commitment. So one of the tenets of our bill will be comprehensive immigration reform, has to mean — has to mean — to protecting all workers.
In a press release accompanying the announcement of the measure, Gutierrez wrote:
We have waited patiently for a workable solution to our immigration crisis to be taken up by this Congress and our President. The time for waiting is over. This bill will be presented before Congress recesses for the holidays so that there is no excuse for inaction in the New Year. It is the product of months of collaboration with civil rights advocates, labor organizations, and members of Congress. It is an answer to too many years of pain — mothers separated from their children, workers exploited and undermined security at the border — all caused at the hands of a broken immigration system. This bill says "enough," and presents a solution to our broken system that we as a nation of immigrants can be proud of.
Despite his passion, there is a fundamental error clouding all of Congressman Gutierrez’s speeches, press releases, and pronouncements. He and those of like mind insist on calling those who have illegally entered this country “immigrants.”
There are legal procedures for obtaining permission to enter, work, and live in the United States and invading the country by sneaking across the porous southern border is not among them.
Applying the noble label of “immigrant” to those who enter the country illegally, is analogous to calling a burglar a “guest.”
Gutierrez’s “Campaign for American Children and Families” will stop in at least 20 cities, including Boston, Massachusetts, on April 3. It will continue throughout at least April and May.
According to information provided by the Congressman’s office, the agenda for these tour stops will typically
include a large church gathering with the testimony of these families, students who would have been eligible for the DREAM Act had it pass in December, and others caught in the unprecedented number of deportations currently taking place.
Photo of Luis V. Gutierrez: AP Images