President Obama has a “responsibility” to act to reduce deportations, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said Thursday.
“I think the president can do more and I think he has the responsibility to do more,” the congressman, who has been critical of the administration’s deportation policies, told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.
Immigration could prove to be a useful election-year issue for Democrats, but Gutiérrez said that doesn’t mean the president should avoid using his executive power to keep many undocumented immigrants from being sent back to their home country.
“Democrats think all they need to do is to simply blame Republicans. You know what? We control the White House and we control the deportation apparatus,” he said. “We have a responsibility to act.”
Advocates have pressured Obama to take executive action to halt deportations in the absence of an immigration reform bill that’s passed by Congress. The Illinois lawmakers and 27 other House Democrats asked the president in a letter last month to suspend deportations.
Despite his call, Gutiérrez says he’s still optimistic that Democrats and Republicans in Congress can reach an agreement on legalizing undocumented immigrants.
“I’m going to strive to get millions of people a pathway to citizenship,” he said. “I am going to strive to legalize everyone, even those that may not have a pathway to citizenship today, because inevitably, they will have one. And you know what, stop the deportations. I think we can accomplish those goals.”
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.