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Gutierrez Responds to President Obama's Statement that Not Passing Immigration Reform was His "Biggest Failure"

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Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4) issued the following statement reacting to two candidate forums conducted this week on Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language network. On Thursday, President Obama stated that his "biggest failure" during his first term was being unable to enact comprehensive immigration reform that couples legal immigration reform, legalization for undocumented immigrants, and improved enforcement at the border and in the workplace. Rep. Gutierrez is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a national leader on the immigration reform issue. Rep. Gutierrez' statement:

As my statements and actions have made clear during President Obama's first term, I do believe he should have done more to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. President Obama's statement to Univision last night regretting his failure to pass immigration reform in his first term suggests to me that we will see real leadership from the President during his second term and I look forward to standing with him to make comprehensive immigration reform a national priority. Election Day will be a turning point and significant immigration reform is possible during President Obama's second term because the dynamics of the issue are shifting.

After Election Day, I hope President Obama invites Republicans to the White House and that leaders like Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Jeb Bush, and Michael Bloomberg, who have made it clear they want to work on immigration reform in a serious way, will bring along the Republican support necessary to solve one of our nation's most pressing issues.

Realistic Republicans recognize that the situation with immigration issues is unsustainable for the GOP politically and unsustainable as a matter of policy. Standing with Steve King, Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer or Kris Kobach is a liability to Republicans who are paying a huge price for blocking immigration reform.

Gov. Romney has fallen with Latino voters and he can't get up. The hole Romney dug for himself by embracing the most staunchly anti-immigration position of any GOP candidate for President will cost him the White House. The clique in the GOP that opposes immigration and immigration reform got their hooks into Romney during the primaries and as returns come in from Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, and Colorado and as states like Virginia and North Carolina swing blue on the strength of Hispanic voters, the adults in the Republican Party will recognize they must begin work on immigration legislation, even if Republicans retain the House.

To enact any sensible immigration reform, the President and the Democrats will need to bring 90% of the votes to get a bill passed, but I think after Election Day, finding 10% of the votes among Republicans will be a lot easier. If the Republican Party is to survive, they must sue for peace on the immigration issue and move beyond gridlock. Some leaders inside the Republican Party understand this reality.

This President has ramped up enforcement and we have record deportation numbers in each year of his presidency to show for it. No one in the Democratic Party has been more critical of the President's choice to lead with enforcement than me, but now the Republicans have no excuse, no pretense of enforcement-only delaying tactics to hide behind.

The President has accomplished a lot through Administrative action to ensure that our enforcement resources are being used to remove threats to our society while allowing assets to our communities to remain in this country. We can only fully modernize our immigration system through legislation and bring it into the 21st century, including getting more high skilled immigrants to choose America and reuniting families.

The Republicans will soon understand how costly their obstruction and wrong-headedness has been, and I think we will be able to return to the table to discuss how we couple legal immigration, legalization for undocumented immigrants and enforcement in the workplace and at the border into a politically viable and successful immigration reform package. With illegal immigration at an historically low level, we can and must get control of immigration and get millions of undocumented residents into the system and on-the-books, but we will need Republicans who want to help solve the problem to join us.


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