Family Unity Can't Wait - Luis Gutierrez Unveils His Principles for Reform

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This post was written for The Sanctuary.

Yesterday, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) unveiled his "principles for a new comprehensive immigration reform bill" amid much fanfare.  An increasingly disciplined and organized migrant rights movement was able to bring thousands to Washington D.C. in support of Gutierrez's announcement.  You can follow almost minute to minute updates of yesterday's event at the Reform Immigration for America blog.

Maegan at Vivir Latino, Prerna at Change.org, and Marisa Trevino at Latina Lista have already expressed their thoughts and I thought I'd add my own.  I'll be the first to admit that I was skeptical of Gutierrez's announcement.  The way Gutierrez and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) have treated the migrant youth movement leaves much to be desired.  Why members of the CHC have still not co-sponsored the Development, Youth, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is beyond me.  The justification offered is that they want to wait for the DREAM Act to be a part of comprehensive immigration reform, but that doesn't mean you can't cosponsor the DREAM Act to show your support!  100 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have already cosponsored the DREAM Act, and it is an embarrassment that a supposed "champion" of migrant rights like Gutierrez has not.
The way Rep. Gutierrez handled healthcare reform also leaves much to be desired.  As Maegan reported for Vivir Latino, Gutierrez conceded early on to a healthcare reform bill that would exclude unauthorized migrants.  In doing so, Gutierrez left the door wide open for Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) to come in and whip Congress into a nativist frenzy with his infamous "You Lie" comment. 

Finally and perhaps most imporantly, I am gravely concerned that "comprehensive immigration reform" will exclude same-sex couples, a concern which Maegan of Vivir Latino has also expressed.  Gay people should not have to choose between their love of their country and the love of their lives.  The United American Families Act (UAFA) would fix that, and if UAFA is not included in Gutierrez's version of comprehensive immigration reform it will be a huge blow to the migrant rights movement.  "Family unity can't wait" was yesterday's overarching message.  I completely agree.  I just hope same-sex couples are included in the definition of family. 

Needless to say, my expectations were very low for Gutierrez's unveiling yesterday.  At this point, I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  Substantively there is not much I can say since I have not seen Gutierrez's bill, yet.  Gutierrez's principles are much better than Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) principles.  Chuck Schumer not only engaged in dehumanizing language towards migrants but he made it a cornerstone of his principles.  Gutierrez, thankfully refrained from dehumanizing language by refering to migrants as undocumented.  Language is important, and it's all we have to go on in the absence of an actual bill.

What little substance we could draw from Gutierrez principles, I liked.  Gutierrez comes out in strong support of both the DREAM Act and AgJobs:

AgJOBS:
"Agriculture plays a fundamental role in our nation's economy and in securing our nation's food supply. Comprehensive immigration reform must provide an agreement between labor and agribusiness that allows farm workers to access legal protections and immigration status while enabling employers to ensure a legal workforce and stabilize their businesses."

DREAM Act:
"We all want a country that is better educated, better motivated and better prepared for the future. My plan will strengthen the DREAM Act, making it quicker and easier for students who grew up in America and know no other home to fully participate in our society.  Immigrants brought here as children should not be punished with fines or other means; rather, they should be fully integrated into our society as the Americans they truly are--and as quickly as possible."
Luis Gutierrez (13 October 2009)
The fact that Gutierrez specifically mentioned the DREAM Act goes a long way towards making up for his lack of substantive support for migrant youth.  I just wish he would cosponsor the bill!

Overall, yesterday was a positive step for the migrant rights movement.  Gutierrez is pushing this earlier than people expected.  Gutierrez's principles are much better than Schumer's.  We're on the right track.  It's hard to say without reading the bill, but if Gutierrez's principles are truly supposed to be among the most pro-migrant in Congress, I suggest he reads the 25 principles Duke outlined yesterday.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on October 14, 2009 5:10 AM.

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