Blog Archive

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gutierrez wants Obama to stop deporting immigrants with U.S.-born children

By Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun Times
May 9, 2011

A day ahead of President Obama’s trip to El Paso, Texas, to talk about immigration, Rep. Luis Gutierrez told a Chicago audience he hopes the president will announce his administration will stop deporting non-criminal parents of American-born children.

“We ask and implore the president to use the wide discretion that he has as the president of the United States to seek out these communities of people who are deserving and to grant them relief and sanctuary in the United States of America,” Gutierrez told civil leaders at the City Club of Chicago.

Gutierrez and other Hispanic members of Congress met with Obama Tuesday and showed him a legal opinion arguing he has the authority — without having to persuade congressional Republicans — to tell his own administrative agencies to stop deporting immigrants whose only crime is coming to the U.S. without documentation or being brought here by their parents years ago.

A crackdown on deportation that started with a focus on those convicted of crimes expanded to anyone even arrested, acquitted or just picked up on suspicion of a crime, leaving 20-year-residents, some brought here as children, “a traffic stop away” from deportation, Gutierrez said.

“Under President Obama, our nation is deporting 400,000 people a year. That’s 1,100 a day, an increase over the presidency of George Bush,” Gutierrez said. “Barack Obama is not focusing just on dangerous criminals in his crackdown. The numbers reflect increased deportations across the board. It’s not just drug dealers. It’s not just gang-bangers.”

Gutierrez has failed in attempts to reform the immigration system or grant citizenship to young immigrants who serve in the military or go to college. He and the other Latino officials asked Obama to try again on those issues.

Gutierrez has travelled the country speaking to immigrant groups, and he has not shied from criticizing his friends and allies such as Obama or his former neighboring congressman Rahm Emanuel when he felt they were not fully on-board with his chosen positions.

Gutierrez said he will attend Emanuel’s mayoral inauguration next Monday and has no hard feelings about Emanuel’s earlier battles with Gutierrez over immigration.

“While Mayor Daley might simply ignore my criticism, Rahm was more likely to respond. There are no children in the room, are there? Let’s just say he might suggest some private places where I could store my criticism,” Gutierrez said.