Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, has some advice for the GOP: Latinos won’t listen to you if you’re not being nice.
“Before Latino audiences will listen to you as a candidate, you first cannot be mean or nasty spirited to immigrants,” Gutierrez said on Jansing & Co. Wednesday. “If you are, they will dial you off.”
Although a November Pew Research exit poll found immigration wasn’t a top issue on the minds of Hispanic voters, Gutierrez sees it as the reason Republicans were pummeled in the election. President Obama overwhelmingly took the Latino vote in the presidential race by 71%.
“I think it was critical to the Republican message that people weren’t listening,” he said. “They weren’t buying in because they won’t tune in if you’re that mean.”
With the election results fresh on the minds of the GOP, Rep. Gutierrez believes it’s the right time to tackle changes in immigration law.
“We have the opportunity, and the moment is right, to do comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. “The system is broken. We can’t wait.”
Gutierrez, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, plans on meeting with Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador Wednesday to talk about immigration reform.
Gutierrez also shared with host Chris Jansing that he had recently heard from another prominent Republican looking to work on changing the immigration laws: Rep. Paul Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential nominee.
“We’re going to see each other next week,” he said. “He says I want to do this because it’s the right thing to do.”
Gutierrez says he’s optimistic because of his talk with Ryan.
“That’s very, very encouraging, ” he said. ” Just think about it. He walks up to me—someone he knows absolutely didn’t vote for him—he says, ‘I want to work with you to make the country better. I want to work with you on immigration reform.’”