Gutierrez Rattles Election Saber at Obama Over Immigration

By Kai Wright Apr 20, 2010

Rep. Luis Gutierrez is pissed. The Chicago Democrat and Congressional Hispanic Caucus immigration task force chair was once one of President Obama’s loudest Latino advocates. No longer. Here’s what he had to say about the November elections in today’s The Hill: “We can stay home. … We can say, ‘You know what? There is a third option: We can refuse to participate.’ ” Gutierrez is tired of waiting for the administration to act on immigration reform. In a weekend HuffPo column, he pointedly tied Arizona’s draconian new racial-profiling law to Obama’s failed leadership on immigration. Now, in a lengthy The Hill profile, Gutierrez speaks at length about the need for an "escalation" in activism.

“We’re going to make it uncomfortable for the Democratic Party,” Gutierrez said, adding that immigration advocates would step up the pressure by drawing lessons from the movements for civil rights and women’s suffrage. “There’ll probably be civil disobedience. There will probably be a number of different actions. What we have to do is we have to break through this wall of silence, because we’re invisible.” Gutierrez is not alone. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), a CHC member who serves in the Democratic leadership, said earlier this month that Latinos view the president with “suspicion” for failing to meet expectations.

Gutierrez notes as well that Obama’s rhetoric has shifted meaningfully on immigration. During the campaign, he used the term "undocumented workers;" by the time health care debate heated up he was saying "illegal immigrants" wouldn’t be covered.