Rep. Gutierrez: Obama’s immigration order is ‘civil rights issue’ for Latinos


Rep. Luis Gutierrez predicted Monday that support for President Obama’s decision to stop deporting young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as kids will only grow stronger once the public gets an up-close view of the people whose lives are affected.

On The Ed Show, host Ed Schultz noted poll numbers showing that 49 percent of Latino voters say Friday’s announcement makes them more likely to vote for Obama. And Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, added:

Wait for two months down the road, when tens of thousands of people make lines [to receive work permits]. Young people, smart people, Americans. When people start talking to them and seeing the people in the lines, and you see them getting their work permits and their work documents, wait till then. This is, for the Latino community, a real civil rights issue … Just wait till those kids line up and you see the happiness. America is a country that loves its children. 

Gutierrez didn’t make the comparison, but the dynamic he predicted is similar to what’s happened on gay marriage and gay rights generally, in which public opinion has grown more favorable toward gay people as they’ve become more visible.

In response to Obama’s announcement, Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans have suggested that Obama should have left the issue of immigration to Congress. In an interview Sunday, Romney criticized Obama for having “jumped in”, though he repeatedly refused to say whether he’d repeal the order if elected president.

But Gutierrez told Schultz Obama had fixed a problem Congress wouldn’t. He noted that in 2010, the House passed the DREAM Act, but it died in the Senate after a Republican filibuster. 

“All the president has done is do through executive action exactly what Marco Rubio’s legislation would have done,” Gutierrez added. “Give them a work visa which is renewable. Would [Rubio’s] have been permanent? Absolutely. But this is a solution to a problem.”