WASHINGTON – Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) on Monday urged President Barack Obama to stop deporting children who have grown up in the United States but were brought here illegally by their parents.
“It makes no sense for young immigrants raised in the U.S. to live under the threat of deportation and there is one person who can do something about it: President Barack Obama,” Gutierrez told reporters on a conference call, in remarks that were also published in a Huffington Post op-ed.
The comments came one day ahead of Obama’s planned trip to Puerto Rico. Gutierrez has been a leading voice for immigration reform, excoriating Republican obstruction and pushing Democrats to be more aggressive. He has admitted that a comprehensive measure won’t pass this year or the next, but continued to insist that Obama use his executive powers to accomplish what he can.
“He concedes that he has this power under existing law and legal scholars concur. The question is whether President Obama has the conviction and desire to fight for these young immigrants by stopping their deportations,” Gutierrez said. “Several times a month, I hear from DREAMers who were picked up or received notices of deportation.”
The congressman was referring to the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to undocumented children if they attend college or join the military and show strong moral character. The measure passed the Democratic-House last year but narrowly failed in the Senate, and has since run into an unyielding Republican blockade.
Obama has championed the DREAM Act, but has significantly ramped up deportations of unauthorized immigrants during his tenure. This spring he took steps to reconsider the policy of deporting students.