Illinois Congressman Tells Journalists: No Turning Back On Immigration Reform

by Joseph G. Lariosa

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (jGLi) – On Wednesday, August 15, a million youth will emerge from their shadows just as the first million African Americans championed the Civil Rights Movement, the first million took their bus seats or went to restaurants, the first million women who voted and the first million LGBT’s to get married.

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4TH) told UNITY Journalists attending the four-day quadrennial convention at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino last Saturday (Aug. 4) that there is no way to turn back this giant step for comprehensive immigration reform. “History will not allow it to happen.”

Responding to concerns expressed by Senior Correspondent Ray Suarez of PBS NewsHour that while one presidential candidate (Barack Obama) is going to support the “Dreamers,” the young undocumented immigrants brought in the United States by their parents and are allowed to obtain work permits by virtue of an executive order signed by President Obama, another (Mitt Romney) is going to veto it next year, Gutierrez said, “Can you imagine one million young people coming out of the shadows, applying for work permits and for driver’s licenses, reversing the impact of that policy? I don’t see it happening.

“We will use it as we take a giant step toward a comprehensive immigration reform (next year) because of the energy that will come forward from the community of the people.”

Tens of thousands of young Filipino immigrants are also expected to benefit from the executive order that can be reversed if Obama loses to Romney in the upcoming November 6, 2012 presidential elections.

Obama, who spoke at the UNITY convention in Chicago, Illinois in 2008 presidential elections, tapped the firebrand Gutierrez to speak on his behalf before journalists composed of Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association.


Romney, who was reportedly in Las Vegas, while the Aug. 1-4 UNITY Journalists convention was in progress, did not send in a representative just as Sen. John McCain, Obama’s rival in 2008 presidential elections, was a no-show during the 2008 UNITY Journalists convention in Chicago. Then Sen. Obama’s appearance at the 2008 UNITY convention in Chicago appeared to have propelled his candidacy.

When asked why Obama did not attend the largest gathering of diverse journalists, Gutierrez said, “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. The Obama campaign absolutely argued that they need a member of Congress and they encouraged me to be here. They reached out to someone to be here because the President believes you are important.”

When asked why he agreed to represent Obama, the Puerto Rican descent and Chicago-born Gutierrez quoted a Puerto Rican saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.”

Gutierrez is hopeful the 12-million undocumented immigrants will be legalized under a comprehensive immigration reform next year so they can pay taxes and contribute to social security that they could not even benefit from but can make the economic development more secure. “The truth is if the undocumented are gone tomorrow, it will lead to the collapse of the agriculture system.

“They contribute to the economy immensely. They shop for clothes, cars, furniture and they pay rent, gas and property taxes.”

Although, the individual mandate of Obama’s Affordable Care Act will kick in beginning 2014, the 12-M undocumented will be the least likely to receive healthcare.

News Director Willie A. Lora of CNN of Atlanta, Georgia, who shared the stage with Mr. Gutierrez as program host, explained that UNITY invited Mr. Romney to the program “but because of conflicting issues,” the Romney campaign decided not send a representative.

Gutierrez accused Romney of being anti-immigrant, saying that in his first campaign ad, Mr. Romney let his son speak in perfect Spanish for a need for comprehensive immigration reform. But during the subsequent debate, Romney suggested to double the fence between the U.S. and Mexico and after a week made another suggestion was to electrify the fence. “It is like an electric chair!”

While Romney’s grandfather was born in Mexico, Gutierrez asked, “Is this someone who will lead our country?”


The senior Congressman also accused Romney of not paying his income taxes and for keeping his offshore bank accounts overseas, not in an America where he is running for president in a country where he is a regulatory agent.

“In 2004 elections, John Kerry was in a Swift boat in Mekong Delta in Vietnam, which was a dangerous job. But Kerry was painted as a coward while George W. Bush was flying jet in Alabama very safely. We are not going to make it happen this time,” Gutierrez added.

Those who will be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals based on the memorandum issued by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last June 15, 2012 and whose application will be accepted starting Aug. 15, are as follows:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The UNITY is composed of Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. It has 10,000 members. They come together every four years. (



Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (right) (D-IL-4th) stresses a point during his appearance at the four-day UNITY 2012 Journalists convention at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada that culminated last Saturday (Aug. 4) as he spoke on behalf of President Barack Obama before members of Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. UNITY has combined 10,000 members. Looking on is the program moderator, News Director Willie A. Lora of CNN of Atlanta, Georgia. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

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