Gutierrez Wants Focus on Families

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on March 17, 2009

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Illinois Democrat who is touring the country to drum up support for "comprehensive immigration reform," is pressuring President Obama to join the effort. Gutierrez said on the weekly Spanish-language Univision television program "Al Punto" that he's looking for Obama to signal his commitment to the effort by ordering a halt to worksite raids by immigration authorities.

Gutierrez told anchorman Jorge Ramos that while Obama was seeking the presidency he criticized what he described as the separation of families caused by the raids, which sometimes lead to the deportation of the parents of children who are U.S. citizens "It is a contradiction to say you want to help these people and on the other hand use all the instruments of the government to deny them the legalization that you say you want to give them," Gutierrez said. "He can't have it both ways."

Gutierrez acknowledged that rising unemployment in the deepening recession complicates his task. But when Ramos asked him about the Coalition for the Future American Worker, which demands enforcement of immigration laws to open up jobs for Americans (and which is running TV ads featuring Gutierrez), the congressman framed his response once again as a matter of family unity. "Morally, how can this country talk about economic development when it is separating families?" he asked. Gutierrez said there are four or five million children who were born in the U.S. but whose parents "don't have documents."

"How do you stimulate an economy when those who are working so hard in this economy are suffering so badly from the terror and this division of the family?" Gutierrez said.