Rep. Gutierrez: Obama ‘playing it safe’ on immigration

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Luis Gutierrez D-Ill., on Sunday said President Barack Obama was “playing it safe” in deciding to delay acting on immigration until after the November elections, a move that could have an impact on elections in Illinois.

“Well, first of all it’s clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the White House and among Democratic circles. And playing it safe means walking away from our values and our principles,” Gutierrez said on ABC’s “This Week,” hosted by GeorgeStephanpoulos.

“Look, they’ve looked at polling in four or five states where there aren’t large Latino constituencies and said that’s the way forward without thinking of the impact that that policy might have in Illinois, in California and Colorado. And so they’ve walked away.

“But, you know, George, playing it safe might win an election. Sometimes you lose an election playing it safe also. But it’s almost never leads to fairness, to justice, and to good public policy that you can be proud of.

RELATED: Obama’s immigration decision could hurt Dems in Illinois Analysis: Politics trump promises on immigration Obama to delay immigration action with Senate at risk in November

Gutierrez isa national leader on immigration–who has been critical of the number of deportations on Obama’s watch–while standing by him during the 2012 re-election campaign.

The White House announced Saturday Obama, in a major reversal, will not signexecutive actions on immigration sometime this month, instead waitinguntil after November elections, where Democratic control of the Senate is at stake.

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Transcript below . . .

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we’re joined now by Congressman Luis Gutierrez who has been pushing very hard for the president take this executive action. Congressman, thanks for joining us this morning.

You’ve just heard Jim Avila right there saying the White House calculating that all is going to be well with Latino community if he acts after November. Are they right?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: Well, first of all it’s clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the White House and among Democratic circles. And playing it safe means walking away from our values and our principles.

Look, they’ve looked at polling in four or five states where there aren’t large Latino constituencies and said that’s the way forward without thinking of the impact that that policy might have in Illinois, in California and Colorado. And so they’ve walked away.

But, you know, George, playing it safe might win an election. Sometimes you lose an election playing it safe also. But it’s almost never leads to fairness, to justice, and to good public policy that you can be proud of.

Latinos have supported this president. I mean, let’s look at the Latino vote in the Latino community, 2008 critical to the president’s election, 2010 many say we kept the Senate in Democratic hands because of Latino voters–

STEPHANOPOULOS: My question is, are they going to forgive the president–

GUTIERREZ: Hagan won in North Carolina principally because of Latino votes. They were the margin of victory. In 2012, it was that way again, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, if the president acts in November, though, are they going to forgive the president and go forward?

GUTIERREZ: Here’s what I’m going to do, George, I’ve called the president, called the White House, I expect that we will be meeting this week so that we can continue.

I think that part of this is that we’re in a good place in terms of public policy, right. This is not about public policy and a difference, I believe, between the immigrant community and the White House. And I want to continue to work on that. I think we’re in a good place with Secretary Johnson. I think he is fighting every day to keep us safe both here, externally, from threats externally and internally in the United States. And I think he’s a man of compassion.

So I’m going to go back to the drawing board. And I’m going to continue to work with this administration. I’m not going to give up, because we have good public policy.

But let’s not forget that there are 11 million people who work in this country, raise families, work and live in this country most of whom have been here 10 years, most of whom have been here 10 years, of the undocumented without visas. And they work and raise families in this country. And they should be given a chance to come out of the shadows, right.

What does that mean coming out of the shadows? That means not being hunted down, that means not being treated like a fugitive. And President Barack Obama in the last five years has deported more people than any other president in the history of the United States. So I think that that’s the reality.

And while we wait until November, because that’s the president’s decision, there’s going to be another 60,000 people deported.

So there is pain and suffering in the community and there’s a lot of anguish and anger.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Congressman Gutierrez, thanks very much for your time this morning.

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