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On Citizenship Day, Rep. Gutierrez Promises To Kick Off Immigration Reform Push

September 18, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas


Today, in celebration of Citizenship Day, hundreds of immigrants and new citizens gathered together in our nation’s capital to exercise their civic duty to petition their government for social change. Members of Congress joined them for an open community dialogue on immigration reform and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) promised to get the ball rolling on immigration by pledging to introduce a progressive comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next several weeks.


You can read the National Immigration Forum’s statement on the Congressman’s announcement here and the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign reaction here.


Our Communications Director was present at the event and wrote the following notes on Rep. Gutierrez’ statement:


Representative Gutierrez made his remarks at a gathering of 275 or more advocates in town for the Unity in Motion Citizenship Day Lobby Day coordinated by NAKASEC and CCC/FIRM.  The event was a "community dialogue" where delegates offered their concerns and experiences on the need for immigration reform and asked for specific commitments from the Members of Congress in attendance.  In addition to Rep. Gutierrez, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and staff members representing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were in attendance.


When Juan Soto, Exec. Dir of the Gamaliel Foundation, asked if Rep. Gutierrez will lead the charge and introduce a progressive immigration bill this year to push the process along towards passage of a bill, Rep. Luis Gutierrez answered a resounding yes.


Your question is right and timely, because the debate has been moving in the wrong direction.  Yes Juan I want to work with you to introduce a progressive bill that lives up to our ideals.


Bipartisanship has its place but we need to be aggressive and say what we want and need in an immigration reform bill.  It will be a progressive bill that incorporates the DREAM Act for young people and reunites families, legalizes the undocumented, and moves us forward.  I pledge to you that we will write it together.We understand that enforcement is important and that it must be part of our bill, but let's do it in a humane way, a fair way that respects the rights and dignity of people.


And let's be clear; if you are a criminal preying on our community, we won't raise our voices to defend you.  But we will raise our voice for all who work hard and sweat and toil for a better life so that that they can move towards legal status.

Our bill won't have a "touch-back," no reporting for deportation.  Our bill will not criminalize undocumented immigrants.  If it criminalizes them, then you'll have the same result as the Sensenbrenner bill.

We need a generous legalization program that actually works.  If we are going to be successful, people have to feel that it is real and that it is something they can believe in.  If not, they will not volunteer to come forward, they will not volunteer their cooperation and it will not work.

Our bill will bring people together and I pledge to work with you on the most comprehensive, caring, and compassionate bill we can craft.  And we have got to unite families and keep them together, we have got to address the needs of DREAM students, and we have to work with our brothers and sisters in labor so that the AFL-CIO, SEIU, UNITE HERE, and the United Food and Commercial Workers and others are with us and fighting along our side.

We have to keep all members of our army together because that is really what we are forming, an army who will work together towards our goal.  That will allow us to be successful.


I want to work on this now, over the next few weeks and introduce principles by October 13 when I understand a lot of you are coming back to Washington.  But regardless of how long it takes, we will make progress and keep pushing for reform.




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