A leading House Democratic advocate of enacting immigration reform accused President Obama of breaking down the left’s coalition instead of strengthening the party’s hand in midterms by punting on an executive order.
“When you play it safe, politically, that is take four or five states and say, well, I am not going to make a decision so that I do not affect these Democrats in these states. You usually do not get good, public policy that you can be proud of. It is bad, right?” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said on MSNBC.
He added that “when you take these kinds of actions” as Obama did, delaying executive action to win votes, “you break down the coalition that makes sure that there is justice and fairness and that we have ideals and that we have principles.”
“I am going to continue to encourage people to vote and to register and to get out to vote in spite of this action of the president, but he has made it harder for us.”
Gutierrez said he has called the White House and is “sure” he’ll get to meet with President Obama.
“I am sure there is going to be a broader group of us meeting with him and sitting down and talking with him, so that we can get those 4, 5, 6 million people and get them their documents, right?” the congressman added, citing his estimates of how many of the illegal immigrants in the United States could get legalized under an Obama order.
“What is this really all about? So the president says, ‘Oh, Luis, I want to educate people better before I make the announcement.’ Well, look, there is nothing I can do to change the president’s mind. There is nothing I can do or say tomorrow when I meet with them or when I see Secretary Jeh Johnson, who I think is wonderfully situated to really be helpful, because I really think he is a man of compassion when it comes to immigrants,” Gutierrez continued.
“Look, I want to work with them, so that we can get that. Not so much because of the political calculation, but because I care about all of these wonderful constituencies in America and I care about immigrants and I want to keep them in the fold of justice and fairness.”
Despite his disappointment, Gutierrez said he wouldn’t give up on Obama.
“I think it is going be 4, 5, 6 six million people. We are going to work to get there. And, I still believe, and I want people to know, do not give up hope because we are going to get it done,” he said. “And, this president is eventually going do it.”