Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) came to call in Representative Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA 6th) district yesterday. He seeks a dialogue about immigration reform with Goodlatte, who controls which immigration bills are considered in the House. Goodlatte declined the invitation to appear at the event in Harrisonburg due to a scheduling conflict.
The Chicago Congressman made two appearances in Virginia on Monday as part of an effort to break the immigration reform deadlock. The appearance in Harrisonburg was a Virginia Organizing event and was attended by a crowd of some 400.
Gutierrez said he came to Harrisonburg because he had been invited. This event, he said is one of as many as a thousand such that will occur across the country demonstrating support for comprehensive immigration reform "even in Republican parts of Virginia."
"...in every survey, whether the surveys are conducted by a conservative leaning institution or a liberal leaning institution, all find, in general, people are for comprehensive immigration reform." - Representative Gutierrez
Allowing that that support does not extend to amnesty, Gutierrez pointed out that he has never been an advocate of amnesty. In his view, a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system includes measures such as securing the border and making certain there is a system of E-verify.
"I start from the premise that every job in American should go first to someone born in America. But I have visited very many other regions of this nation. We find a need for labor..." - Representative Gutierrez
Labor, according to Gutierrez, is one part of immigration, but another part is family. He hears the question "Why didn't they come in the right way?" Well, he responds, they shut down the right way to come in, limiting the legal ways. As an example he addresses the immigration reforms that occurred in 1996 establishing the 3 and 10 year bars. What this did was eliminate the process for persons who were already here to get visas under Section 245(i). In effect, that trapped those already here who were waiting for their visa because it required them to repatriate to their home nation to get the visa then wait 10 years to return to the United States.
"If you ask any Congressperson, any Senator, any member of the House or the Senate, when you look at your immigration work, they tell you one simple line: reestablish 245(i) and you resolve half of your casework. And when I say resolve half of your casework, we know literally hundreds of thousands, and the estimates are up to three million people, could go to permanent residency very quickly. Why? Because their green card exists for them. All you have to do is allow them to access that green card without paying the 10 year penalty." - Representative Gutierrez
Discussing the Senate bill, Gutierrez quips that the only one who believes that is a Democratic bill or Senator Schumer's bill is Schumer. He emphasizes that bill contains portions that appeal to all sides of the issue. If a person is one of the 11 million who fall under this bill, they are not eligible for Obamacare for 10 years, they must pay taxes for those 10 years, and they may not benefit from any means tested program.
This is in contrast to the amnesty under Ronald Reagan. At that time, when an illegal self-identified, they provided the social security number under which they had been working and the funds that had been collected were adjusted to their new social security account. In the Schumer bill, those funds are confiscated and becoming legalized terminates any right to that money.
Another favorite issue of the opponents of the Senate bill is that of "chain migration." The Senate bill changes that entirely to a formula that the Republicans supported. Additionally the bill institutes a Republican jobs program creating 20,000 new positions for border agents to guard a border that 4 out of 10 affected did not cross.
Other requirements included in the Senate bill:
- requirement to learn English
- requirement to learn the Constitution
- if in the program for more than 60 days unemployed, may be disqualified
Commenting on Representative Goodlatte's remarks against creating a special pathway to citizenship, Gutierrez said that had hoped that he would be there so that he could explain his position. Rather than focusing on areas where they disagree, he would prefer to find the areas where they agree then proceed from there. Unfortunately the House Republicans, unlike in the Senate, have stated that any bill must be a Republican bill and it must first have the support of the majority of Republicans. In essence, 118 members of Congress can dictate what 435 may decide and subjugate the will of the American people.
"Goodlatte's talking about no special way? I want to learn what that no special way is. Does that mean we allow people to sponsor people? I don't know. What does that mean no special way? Does that mean the ordinary ways that used to exist before 1996 will be reestablished? I don't know what that means. I would like to talk to him to understand more about what that means." - Representative Gutierrez
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