Since the launch of the #BringThemHome campaign, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, especially Rep. Cuellar and Rep. Gutierrez have stuck to one talking point: the families of the #Dream30 are being manipulated by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance.
We have always found this analysis to be horribly off and, at its core, very dehumanizing. Rep. Gutierrez wants YOU to believe that if a “‘Mexican” finds his or her way to his Capitol office to ask for something, then he or she must be being manipulated. The only place a “Mexican” must know is in the back of someone’s kitchen or office, doing back-breaking work. We find Rep. Gutierrez’s statements to be absolutely dis-empowering and a disservice to the real power of the undocumented community.
As the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, we are the only national network that is led entirely by undocumented youth. The decisions as to what we work on and the direction in which we go are completely in line with the needs of the undocumented community. That is the reason why we have already, purposefully infiltrated several detention centers and have had members willingly return to Mexico in an effort to bring home other exiled Dreamers. As NIYA, we ultimately lay our faith in our own community, and believe that an empowered community is more powerful than other organizations at accomplishing its goals.
Given Rep. Gutierrez’s recent posturing, it is all the more evident to us that to those like him, an empowered community that dares to make an ask of him is a very dangerous thing. In the role that Mr. Gutierrez has carved out for the “Mexican,” they are only expected to get involved in politics when he is on one of his many national church tours. Their only role is to fill his pews, provide tears for the cameras so that he, as the “Moses of the Latinos” can once again “tell us” how bad deportations are. But once they begin forming their own political opinions and demanding more than just the scraps from the table, can only mean they are being manipulated.
This is not the way we work at the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, and if Rep. Gutierrez thinks that opens us up to attacks, then we welcome them.
In response to the shameful personal attacks by Rep. Gutierrez: Since the #Dream9 actions, many of the undocumented organizers we work with have been under attack by lone, fringe activists upset that we have dared to demand that deported family members be allowed to come home. This fringe group has gone as far as sending personal messages to reporters claiming we are associated with Hamas. It is sad to see that, when presented with the option of respecting #Dream30 families, Rep. Gutierrez has instead chosen to align with fringe groups in attacking undocumented youth at the forefront of this fight.
1. “Productively kill CIR”: Comprehensive immigration reform has been dead since the beginning of this session. We are one of few groups who never hitched onto the foundation-driven wagon of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” CIR never stood a chance of passing and just pushing for it for the heck of it while real solutions could be reached is not the way we organize.
One of our members, through his personal Facebook, made a comment about “productively killing CIR.” We ought to think beyond it. We need to move past the concept of a bill that will never happen so that we can begin to pass real, meaningful legislation. The only accomplishment the CIR lobby such as Rep. Gutierrez can truly take credit for is the nearly 2 million deportations.
After more than two-years of pushing to “kill” CIR it seems that finally Rep. Gutierrez himself has caved to the reality: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/luiz-gutierrez-immigration-reform_n_4192798.html? “Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a leading proponent of comprehensive immigration reform in the House, said Thursday in a radio interview that the GOP preference for a piecemeal approach is likely to win out.”
How can he demand our belief in something in which he no longer believes?
Immigration reform is not the only lens through which we should see the fight for immigrant rights. We have families that can’t wait for Congress. We have families that are living in fear now. We are ready to help them fight for themselves; Gutierrez only waits for others to join his.
2. ”Racist Sentiments”: Rep. Gutierrez needs to understand the concept of racism before taking on the task of labeling who is the racist in this immigration complex. Rep. Gutierrez quoted one of our members as saying:“…My point is if you aren’t undocumented and living in a different country separated from your family, then it isn’t your place to say what is too much and what is too little. You have no agency to speak. You don’t know what it is like to be deported, to be forced to leave. It isn’t your space to judge whether someone thinks its worth it to come back or not.” As the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, we wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments. Our role in this movement is purely to empower other undocumented people to see the power they have. It is a shame that Rep. Gutierrez would attack us as being racist for simply believing that, in a struggle for the rights of undocumented people, undocumented people should be at the forefront.
3. ”Broken Ties with NIYA & DreamActivist”: We hate to burst another bubble: we haven’t had a working relationship with the office of Rep. Gutierrez since well before September of 2012. The kind of relationship we had with his office has been one where his Chicago staff will only meet with families at a local Dunkin’ Donuts. For the #Dream9, the only reason Rep. Gutierrez made a floor speech for Lulu Martinez was because her mother, along with three organizers slept overnight in his Chicago offices, refused to leave until he did something. In New York, Marco’s mother chased the member down from ‘immigration event to immigration event’ badgering him until he caved. We have never had a working relationship with Rep. Gutierrez. As the National Immigrant Youth Alliance we don’t measure power in relationships with members of Congress; we see power in the members of our own community, those that Rep. Gutierrez says he represents. We use that power to hold politicians accountable.
Rep. Gutierrez’s shameful attacks are nothing new. Last year an article in the National Journal labeled us as a “Rogue Activist Network,” with a warning to offices on Capitol hill not to mistake other Dreamer organizations for us. http://www.dreamactivist.org/rogue-activist-network-of-dreamers-rattle-members-over-immigration/ “We take no prisoners,” said Juan Escalante, who runs communications for Dream Activist when he is not at his regular job at an ice-cream shop.
If Gutierrez plans to turn away families that come to him, that is on his conscience. It only reveals how weak of a “champion” he is. We will not abandon them, because they are like us.
Our champions are out there fighting. They are tired of living in fear; they may even be in deportation proceedings. But they are like us, who one day decided to stand up and ask others to join them. We will find them, we will fight alongside them, and together, we will win.
Guess who made it Rolling Stone? Congressman Luis Gutierrez, the Illinois Democrat.
In a profile to promote his new book, Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill, Gutierrez talked a lot about his life and his politics. The piece even covered how the Puerto Rican Gutierrez has thrived in a Chicago district that is predominantly Mexican American. No divide and conquer here. He discusses why he was able to earn that vote:
“It was easy getting their votes, because, look, what did they write about Puerto Ricans in the 1950s? We were bringing diseases. We were coming to get welfare and have babies. If you look at how [Arizona sheriff Joe] Arpaio and the other xenophobics speak about immigrants today, is that any different than the treatment my mom and dad got?”
Then there was this:
Gutiérrez’s insight about the unity Latinos feel about immigration reform explains a powerful truth about the role Latinos play in national politics. Despite the fact that Puerto Ricans have had U.S. citizenship since 1917, Gutiérrez says he’s always understood the plight of the undocumented. “It’s the same way with most U.S.-born Latinos,” says Gutiérrez. “Last November, every pundit in America woke up and said what? Latinos are powerful, and they just whupped the Republicans into shape because they’re anti-immigrant. Latinos did this because Arizona’s Proposition 1070 isn’t just against immigrants – it angers all Latinos.”
How much do we love Luis Gutierrez? A lot. Brilliance.
Pick out the immigrant, people. Time to play! (h/t to @Synbad)
At NALEO, Mitt Romney's speech perfectly summarized what he has to offer Latinos: nothing. No amount of evasive rhetoric and vague pleasantries will hide the basic fact that Mitt Romney won't stand up for the Dream Act, supports Arizona's discriminatory, anti-immigrant laws and believes immigrants should "self-deport." His views on Latinos and immigration are wrong, extreme and would divide our nation. With President Obama's leadership last week for immigrants, the contrast between Mitt Romney and the President has never been clearer.
The President and his sensible shift in policy to prioritize the deportation of criminals over DREAM Act youth has put Romney and the Republicans in a vise-grip. The President called their bluff. Romney can either stand with the anti-immigrant hawks or he can stand with the American people, including the Latino community, but trying to both will fall flat, like today.
What I saw was a Republican presidential candidate that clearly will not break with the hardest core positions held by some in his anti-immigration base, which then prevents him from moving towards the sensible middle on immigration.
It is a model for the problem Romney and the Republicans have on so many other issues. They are scared of their strongest supporters, which makes it difficult to imagine the Republicans will succeed with other more centrist voters.
On immigration, Romney will try to reconcile the gulf between the Republican base and the rest of the country — and especially Latinos — by being vague and talking in generalities. He avoids saying anything concrete on immigration to prevent upsetting the majority of the American people on the one hand or causing the anti-immigration wing of his party to explode on the other.
So Romney is mum on whether he would deport 800,000 DREAMers and their families by repealing the President's policy. And Romney is mum on what he would do with their families and the rest of the 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Romney talks about elements of comprehensive immigration reform, like legal immigration reform and an employment verification system, but will not articulate how to accomplish those reforms without also legalizing some of those already here. He knows that the "self-deportation" fantasy of tens of millions of people leaving the U.S. is not credible, so he would be better off saying nothing, especially when addressing a Latino audience.
Is the shift in the immigration debate starting to happen between Democrats and Republicans?
Both Univision News and Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Día are reporting that a meeting between Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic leaders received praise by Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (IL), a vocal critic of recent Republican immigration policies as well as the policies of President Obama's administration.
The meeting, according to both outlets, was called by Rubio and included Rep. Gutiérrez, Rep. Bob Menéndez (D-NJ), and Rep. Charles González (D-TX). This is what Gutiérrez had to say to Univision News:
“It was a great meeting. Look, I am going to meet with anyone independent of their political party or what perceived or real political benefit my association [provides] as long as it does one thing: stop the deportations,” Gutiérrez told Univision News in an interview Wednesday evening.
The congressman, who’s known as a champion for immigration reform, said the three members who met with Rubio aren’t yet willing to announce their support for the plan since the final language has not yet been drafted, although they did discuss some details.
“He said it and we agreed with him; today was not a day for us to come together because there is no proposal to agree on. It was simply a conversation opening dialogue,” said Gutiérrez.
Rubio has begun to promote an alternative version of The DREAM Act, which would begin to address the citizenship status of undocumented youth who came to this country with their parents, but are not American citizens. Rubio's plan is in sharp contrast to what the GOP front-runner Mitt Romney has been promoting for months, which follows a more extreme view of immigration enforcement. Recently Romney was open to Rubio's plan, although he has yet to truly distance himself from "informal adviser" Kris Kobach, the architect of Arizona's SB 1070 immigrant law. Rubio is still being mentioned as a possible running mate for Romney.
Univision News provided some additional background about the history of The DREAM Act, which has overwhelming support with US Latino voters:
Rubio’s proposal is styled after the current version of the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who are seeking a higher education or want to enlist in the military. The proposal, which is widely popular with Latinos and non-Latinos alike, passed the House in 2010 but failed to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate to break a filibuster.
The DREAM Act has been stalled in Congress since then under near-universal Republican opposition, including from Rubio, who describes it as an “amnesty” bill that could lead to “chain migration.” The presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said said he would veto the current version, though he has said recently he is open to Rubio’s plan. Rubio says that under his proposal, certain undocumented minors would receive legal status, but not a special pathway to citizenship.
That has been a main point of contention of several immigration-reform advocates and Democrats, who have described it as a half measure, an indication that it’s far from certain Democrats will endorse it. Indeed, earlier this month, Gutierrez labeled the plan the “Stolen Dreams Act.”
But he pledged to hold his fire until Rubio comes out with more details regarding the plan. “I also have concerns. I don’t want to speak to the details of a bill that he hasn’t fully elaborated. He gave us some good indications about different components of the bill, but those components could change,” he said. “Let’s give him a chance. He asked me to give him a chance, and I’m going to wait.”
As for other reaction to Rubio's plan, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was quoted in a Washington Post blog that Rubio's plan would have trouble being passed in Congress:
Asked by a reporter whether he thought the House could pass an immigration measure this year that focused on more than just border security, Boehner said: “There’s always hope.”
The speaker said he has spoken to Rubio about his plan. “I found it of interest, but the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment. To deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best.”
Boehner also added the following:
"Where’s the president’s immigration plan? Where does the president stand on this issue? Instead of campaigning all the time, maybe he ought to come back to Washington and go back to work,” Boehner said.
The Post's blog quoted President Obama's comments to Telemundo earlier this month about the Rubio plan:
“This notion that somehow Republicans want to have it both ways, they want to vote against these laws and appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment . . . and then they come and say, ‘But we really care about these kids and we want to do something about it’ — that looks like hypocrisy to me,” Obama said.
Give it up to El Galiito Rebelde.
Wondering if GOP candidate Newt Gingrich might want to retract his claim that President Obama is the country's most successful "food stamp president."
This week, on the floor of Congress, Illinois Congressman Luis "El Gallito Rebelde" Gutiérrez present his case against Gingrich's claim with…. actual facts.
GOP's Military-Only Version of the DREAM Act: A Political Ploy
The latest Republican immigration political ploy is to force young people who are long-term residents of the U.S. — many of whom have U.S. citizen brothers or sisters — to serve in the military to be eligible for citizenship (see: "Rivera introduces a military-only version of DREAM Act")
I have a different military service proposal: for Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum to be eligible to serve as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, they should have to serve in the military first. If Republicans demand military service as a litmus test of who is an American, I'm sure Gingrich, Romney and Santorum will insist on being the first to sign up.
The military is an honorable profession and many undocumented youth, like other young people raised in the U.S., would like to serve. But making military service a requirement for those who were raised here does not make sense because not everyone desires to serve or is qualified to do so. Furthermore, risking one's life should not be the only route to receive legal status — status that after all, merely recognizes what is already the reality: that these are American children in all but the paperwork.
The goal of any immigrant legalization should be to get as many people into the system and on the books as possible and to combine legalization, deportation, enforcement, and a modern legal immigration system to reduce the population of those living in the U.S. illegally and prevent the growth of that population moving forward. The GOP proposal does not do that.
It is doubly ironic that that the proposal comes from a Congressman from the Cuban-American community because there are no conditions on the amnesty that we grant to unauthorized immigrants from Cuba if they reach our soil, a policy I strongly support. When and if people ever suggest that Cubans serve in the U.S. military as a condition of legal status, I hope Rep. David Rivera and other Cuban American Members of Congress will join me in opposing that.
It is a deeply cynical ploy to trot out this legislation at this moment. The current leadership of the Republican Party in Congress is opposed to legalizing anyone under any circumstances, no matter how gruesome or attenuated the process. This is the flavor of the week to troll for votes in Florida (and Nevada and other upcoming states) where the harsh anti-immigration rhetoric of the GOP standard bearers in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire is now a severe liability for the candidates and the Party.
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez Opening Statement as Prepared for Delivery from November 17, 2011
Photo © USATODAY
As you know, a group of nine Members of Congress is traveling to Birmingham, Alabama for a series of events on Monday. We will hold an Ad Hoc hearing at 3 p.m. in the chambers of the Birmingham City Council to hear from residents.
While some of the details are still coming together, we will have a range of people offer their testimony: local elected leaders and law-enforcement, families, educators, farmers, and small business owners and the like. We want a range of people who fit into categories including those who were the intended targets of Alabama's law, but we also want to hear from and those who have proven to be targets, perhaps unintentionally, as the law has begun to be implemented.
After the hearing we will meet with leaders of the immigrant advocacy and civil rights community in Birmingham and across the state at a private meeting at the Civil Rights Institute. Then we will walk across the street to the historic 16th Street Baptist Church — the church where four little girls were killed by an assassin's bomb — and at 7 p.m. there will be a huge rally that marks the kick off of the "One Alabama" statewide campaign to repeal the law. I was in Alabama in October and I came back to Washington and said to my colleagues, "you have got to go and see for yourself."
In other states we have seen anti-immigration bills pass, but in Alabama it has triggered something unique. The fear and chaos in a small, not very well established Latino and immigrant community has run deeper. The feeling of danger and despair is palpable, perhaps owing to Alabama's history of dogs and water cannons and bombings and worse. But that same history also gave me a great deal of hope.
All across the state I met people at rallies, at the NAACP state convention, at the Spanish language radio station, and I got a sense that the history of fighting for justice and fighting for basic rights is still alive in Alabama. Indeed, a lot of what we know about social movements, about social change and fighting for justice, we learned from the people of Alabama less than a generation ago.
We are seeing what happens when Congress is prevented from passing immigration reform for a decade or two decades. We see the reaction on the ground to an immigration system that is a quarter century out of date. Ironically, the Republican Party in Alabama that pushed this law through is the same Republican Party that has actively blocked immigration reform in Washington. And those few Republicans with whom I and Senator Kennedy and others worked with across the aisle have all drifted away from the negotiating table.
In particular, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, in his role on the Judiciary Committee, has played a substantial role in obstructing immigration reform along with a handful of Southern Republican Senators. In order to get control of immigration, we need to strengthen legal immigration and make sure enforcement is both firm and fair. In order to get control over immigration we have to get immigrants who live and work here into the system and on-the-books because we simply will not deport of drive out 10 million people who have deep roots, family, property, and lives here.
But Republicans, often led by Senator Sessions of Alabama, have prevented us from moving from the current chaos and blackmarket to a modern, efficient and legal immigration system because they think immigration is a good political football. Perhaps more so than anyone going on this trip, I have been critical of the President because of the one million people he has deported, but I am pleased that the Justice Department is fighting against unconstitutional laws in Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and elsewhere. We simply cannot have 50 separate immigration laws and the Constitution is clear about that.
We will hold President Obama and Secretary Napolitano accountable for sticking to the federal policies they laid out that put a priority on deporting criminals so we can get bad people out of our communities. That means standing up to and not cooperating with the state policies that create broad roundups based on appearance or make it a crime to work or take your children to the library.
Anti-immigration laws at the state and local level come with tremendous costs… — in terms of the slowed economy, businesses that fail and millions of tax dollars paid to lawyers to defend against lawsuits. — in political terms, these laws have changed the way America thinks about Arizona and Alabama and whether they are modern states or backward-looking ones. — and at the local level — from family to family, business to business, and town to town, the divisiveness of playing politics with such an important issue carries a huge cost to the very fabric of a community.
There is a very high moral cost. I am going to Alabama to stand with the good, decent people of Alabama to fight back and defend what I think is right and just.