Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) commented on today's House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Hearing, noting that he could not remember a hearing where the Republicans had not invited a staunch opponent of legal immigration to testify. Gutierrez said this was a very good sign that Republicans were turning a new page on the immigration issue and he congratulated Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on this remarkable accomplishment.
"This is the first time in 20 years that I feel I share the same basic values as every panelist invited by the Republican Majority," Rep. Gutierrez said. "The Chairman and the Subcommittee Chairman are approaching this issue from a new and much more constructive perspective which gives me great hope that we can come to agreement across party lines on immigration this year."
In previous years when Republicans have been in the majority and the topic of immigration came up, it was pretty much guaranteed the panel would include a representative from FAIR or NumbersUSA or the Center for Immigration Studies or one of the other groups founded to fight immigration -- legal or otherwise.
Today's panel included two agricultural trade association representatives, a farmer, and a representative from the United Farmworkers (UFW) labor union to discuss labor in the agriculture industry, temporary worker programs, and how comprehensive immigration reform could or should address agriculture. Rep. Gutierrez stressed that he did not agree with the panel on every issue -- especially around the rights of working people to form unions -- but the panel was a hopeful sign for Gutierrez.
"It was a very thoughtful, helpful discussion and did not end up with Republicans grilling witnesses about immigrant murderers or rapists or gangbangers, which has been the default position of a lot of Republicans on immigration for a long time," Rep. Gutierrez said. "A civil, intelligent discussion on a complicated and sometimes very partisan issue in a House Subcommittee hearing should not be such a remarkable event, but in these hyper-partisan times, it sort of is."
Rep. Gutierrez, who is Chairman of the Task Force on Immigration of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, recently rejoined the Judiciary Committee and the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee in order to work on immigration reform. He is traveling on Friday to Florida and on Saturday to New Jersey for a series of immigration events and plans trips later this month to Texas and California to meet with local Members of Congress, their constituents, and anyone who wants to have their voice heard as the Congress deliberates immigration reform.