Immigration advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Immigration. The Illinois Democrat was the guest at the March 19 Monitor Breakfast.
His response to Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky speaking in favor of legal status and potential citizenship for America's 12 million undocumented people:
"It is important to underscore that all the talk about a new attitude and a new approach and a new openness by Republicans on immigration is true."
Whether immigration-reform legislation will offer a special path to citizenship as some liberals advocate:
"I don't really think it's our insistence anymore.... There won't be a special" path.
The need for immigration legislation to spell out "future flows" of immigrants for agriculture and business while protecting existing workers:
"You cannot do this without future flows. Democrats have to ... understand that our economy needs workers.... The problem is, you have to protect workers who are working those fields, too."
A timeline for undocumented people to become US citizens:
"If things run really, really well, I'm going to be like 75 years old before the first undocumented person gets to vote.... This is not something that's going to happen tomorrow." (Gutierrez is in his late 50s.)
Whether Democrats want to keep immigration as a wedge issue for future elections:
"Shame on anybody that would exploit this issue...."
Criticism by Latinos of President Obama's relative inaction on immigration during his first term:
"He is working really hard on it now.... That is what is important, that we get it done now.... I am happy."