Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s Assault On Immigrant Rights
If you are reading this, you have probably heard that Congressman Luis Gutierrez officially cut ties with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) and DreamActivist, undocumented-led organizations dedicated to the defense of the human rights of immigrants facing deportation or for those who have already been deported.
In spirit with their goals as an organization, NIYA and DreamActivist have aggressively lobbied members of Congress to pressure the White House to grant humanitarian parole on behalf of members of the Dream 30. One of their campaign targets is Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a purported advocate of immigrant rights.
However, Gutierrez apparently did not want to help. Instead of doing all in his power to secure the release of the remaining detained dreamers, he went off on a paternalistic tirade against the some of the parents of the Dream 30, saying that a radical gay racist Iranian had them in his thrall and that their kids were in grave danger.
Apparently, Luis Gutierrez does not want s to be held to his words. When he learned that a parent of the Dream 30 recorded his meeting with the parents, he issued a bizarre press release in which alleged a leader of the NIYA to be a criminal, racist, and child-abuser. Here is a relevant excerpt:
The illicit tape recording of a confidential conversation was the latest chapter in a long and difficult relationship with NIYA and its leaders. The NIYA leaders have expressed their strong opposition to immigration reform (LINK), have expressed disturbing racism (LINK), and have put young people in harm’s way. In talking with the families, the Congressman and his staff believe that the parents and families were being manipulated by NIYA and its leaders and were not well informed about the law and the legal process.
Let’s break this defamatory paragraph down. Two common definitions of “Illicit” are “not allowed by law” or “unlawful or illegal.” In the context of Gutierrez’s statement, it certainly looks like he is trying to say that the recording of his conversation was illegal.
Gutierrez also stated that the “meeting was also recorded surreptitiously by NIYA, without the knowledge of the parents, the Congressman or his staff.”
According to DreamActivist and the NIYA, the meeting was recorded by one of the parents of the Dream 30. Therefore, either Luis Gutierrez is misinformed, or he is lying. The difference is huge given the law regarding the recording of conversations in Washington D.C.
Federal law permits recording telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties. See 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(d).
According to Luis Gutierrez’s version of events, the NIYA and DreamActivist committed a felony criminal offense punishable up to 5 years in prison.
The Congressman must have forgotten that he is a public official having a meeting with members of the public regarding the welfare of their children. Instead of focusing on what he could do for the kids in detention, he tried to divide the parents from the organizers of the Dream 30 movement.
Clearly, Gutierrez never liked the idea of the Dream 30 or several of the movement’s leaders.
If he wanted to sever ties with the two organizations, why did he do it like a teenager breaking up with a significant other on Facebook? Why did he malign a movement by attacking its leaders at a time when dreamers are still detained and at risk of deportation?
Self-interest. He is embarrassed because of what he said in his meeting with parents of the Dream 30. He knows that maligning the character of an individual by referencing the fact that he is a gay person who would be killed or tortured if returned to his native country of Iran is wrong.
He also is embarrassed that he was caught refusing to help out detained dreamers:
He told them “No one tells me what to do, if i want to make a floor speech i’ll do it, if not i won’t.”
All that to answer why he isn’t supporting the #Dream30
Gutierrez issued a press release because he wanted to get out in front of the bad publicity that his own words to the parents of the Dream 30 will cause. He is more interested in his own image than that of the rights of the detained dreamers.
One who cares for welfare of the detained dreamers would not try to torpedo the organizers mid-movement. Instead, one would ratchet up the pressure on the human rights perpetrator, the Department of Homeland Security, which has caused the Dream 30 to be forcefully separated from their family without any justification but the dogma of deport because the law says so.
Lastly, the Congressman was the one trying to manipulate the parents of the Dream 30. In his statement, Gutierrez claimed that NIYA & DreamActivist put young people in harm’s way. That is ridiculous. Every one of the Dream 30 entered the United States because they were fearful of being harmed in their native country, Mexico, s land rife with high levels of violence.
Gutierrez has it backwards: By staying in Mexico, the Dream 30 were being placed in harm’s way on a daily basis.
Furthermore, the U.S. government is responsible for putting the Dream 30 in harm’s way because it relentlessly withheld their basic human rights when they were living in the United States. Instead of enacting DACA at the moment he became President, Obama waited until a few months before his re-election to announce the program in a bid to woo the Latino vote.
Even after DACA, the U.S. government is still pursuing the deportation of dreamers who entered the U.S. after June 15, 2007.
Luis Gutierrez should be ashamed of himself for his press release. It is nothing more than a cynical and filthy attack on the lives of undocumented immigrants.
Do the right thing. Pick up the phone and ask Obama to release the rest of the Dream 30 and to allow those deported to return to their family and home here in the United States. Make a fiery speech on the floor of the House. Do whatever is necessary to stand up for the rights of immigrants.