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Gutierrez: Obama should have gone to border while in Texas

WASHINGTON—Rep. Luis Gutierrez D-Ill. said Sunday President Barack Obama should have visited the border while in Texas last week as he defended the president over the accusation of Texas Gov. Rick Perry that the president is not interested in solving border problems.

"Gov. Perry's just wrong on that issue,” Gutierrez told CBS’ Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation,” noting how deportations have soared on Obama's watch.

“Let's first go, he kept repeating "the border, the border, the border," and he wants to put more National Guards men in and if he put more National Guards man in, the children wouldn't come.  The children come, Bob, fleeing violence and torture, murder and rape.”



"...And so, they're going to continue to come as long as those conditions exist and we don't fix our broken immigration system.  Let's just put in context what the governor just said.  So at the height of George Bush's President in 2002, I'm sorry, not the height, during George Bush's Presidency, 1,600,000 people apprehended crossing the border between Mexico and the United States. Today it's under 400,000.  But George Bush, average of about 200,000 people deported a year, average over his eight years.  Over six years of President Barack Obama, 400,000.  Over two million deported under already.  So (UNINTEL) border and border, in terms of deportation, there has been enforcement.

“…So you can keep throwing money and talk about enforcement, enforcement, enforcement, but you've got to put money also into your judicial system, and you've got to put money in a comprehensive program that deals with the issue.  I want to make one last point to the Governor, look, these are children.  I'm happy he didn't demonize the children, but there is a demonization that goes on.  And all I say to the Governor is I wish you understood and accepted the law of the land, Governor.  And the law of the land in 2008, we adopted in the Congress of the United States an anti-trafficking law.”

Perry criticized Obama for not visiting the border while in Texas, though the two leaders did meet in Austin. Schieffer asked Gutierrez if Obama “would have been better off” if he went to the border.

“Absolutely.  I think the President should have gone down there, stated what the law is,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez commented as Obama is weighing executive actions to curb deportations and as Congress this week starts to consider Obama’s request an emergency $3.7 billion supplemental appropriation to respond to the surge of unaccompanied minors showing up at the U.S. southern border.

The Chicago lawmaker is a national leader on immigration issues and is the Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

 

Below, "Face the Nation" transcript....

BOB SCHIEFFER INTERVIEWS

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-IL)

July 13, 2014

***TRANSCRIPT BELOW***

BOB SCHIEFFER: We're back now with Congressman Luis Gutierrez, whose district is in Chicago, O'Hare Airport, Midway Airport, kind of the northwest and--

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ: Northwest, southwest side.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --side of it, and we thank you for coming back to Washington to join us this morning.  You just heard Rick Perry, some really strong words about the President.  He said basically he's just not interested in solving this problem on the border.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ: Well, Governor Perry's just wrong on that issue.  Let's first go, he kept repeating "the border, the border, the border," and he wants to put more National Guards men in and if he put more National Guards man in, the children wouldn't come.  The children come, Bob, fleeing violence and torture, murder and rape.

And so, they're going to continue to come as long as those conditions exist and we don't fix our broken immigration system.  Let's just put in context what the governor just said.  So at the height of George Bush's President in 2002, I'm sorry, not the height, during George Bush's Presidency, 1,600,000 people apprehended crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.

Today it's under 400,000.  But George Bush, average of about 200,000 people deported a year, average over his eight years.  Over six years of President Barack Obama, 400,000.  Over two million deported under already.  So (UNINTEL) border and border, in terms of deportation, there has been enforcement.

But there's the problem:  We spend $18 billion a year on making sure that the federal government has immigrant enforcement agents.  That's more than D.E.A. and the A.T.F. and the F.B.I. and all the other enforcements combined.  But we still have a problem, right?

So you can keep throwing money and talk about enforcement, enforcement, enforcement, but you've got to put money also into your judicial system, and you've got to put money in a comprehensive program that deals with the issue.  I want to make one last point to the Governor, look, these are children.  I'm happy he didn't demonize the children, but there is a demonization that goes on.  And all I say to the Governor is I wish you understood and accepted the law of the land, Governor.  And the law of the land in 2008, we adopted in the Congress of the United States an anti-trafficking law.  But wait, it wasn't only in 2008 that we said protect the children, we said protect the children in 2002 when we created the Department of Homeland Security.  (UNINTEL) signed by President Bush said, "We must treat children who arrive at our shores differently."

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you about this, because I hear this from Democrats, as well as Republicans, and prominent Democrats are saying, "You know, if the President was going to Texas, he should have gone down to the border and he should have taken a firsthand look into this."  Do you think he would have been better off if he had done that?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ: Absolutely.  I think the President should have gone down there, stated what the law is.  In 2008, Bob, we-- look, Louie Gohmert from Texas (UNINTEL) immigrant that he has (UNINTEL) thought was bringing disease to this country.  And went on the, no, went on the House Floor this week to compare the invasion of children to our encouraging into Mexico to seek out (UNINTEL), to our reaching the beaches of Normandy.  So they put it in these terms.

But Steven King from Iowa, he always says they're criminals.  He can never say "immigrant" and "criminal" without (UNINTEL).  They voted for the 2002 and 2008 law that say, "Protect."  So when there were calmer times, right, levelheaded people thinking about the issue, we put the children's interests first.  Remember bipartisanship?  This wasn't a Democratic bill--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well let me just say.  Let's start with this, okay, don't you have to secure the border, though and take care of these children that are already here?  How do you do that?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ: The border is secure; the fact is, the children are handing themselves over to the Border Patrol Agents, and under our laws, they must be treated.   So all I have come here to say is two things:  America, there's American Exceptionalism, right?  I believe in it, and I say we are the strongest, wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world and children are coming into our borders and we should protect them.  Now I will say this, follow the law, and the law said that we must put the children's interests first, which is what President Barack Obama is doing.

I find Governor Perry interesting in that Republicans keep saying, "Well, we can't fix the immigration issue because we don't trust the President to enforce the law."  And then, when the President actually follows the law in 2002 and 2008, the very law that was signed by President Bush, they said, "Well, he should do something different."

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Congressman, we have to stop there.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ: Thank you.