HOUSTON – If the Republican Party retakes the White House in 2016, Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez hopes the GOP’s choice is Jeb Bush.
At a national meeting of some 1,000 Hispanic evangelical Christian leaders Tuesday night, Gutierrez emphasized that any candidate who wants to win the White House will need the Hispanic vote.
“I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton for president, because, in the reality of politics, I can’t get elected to Congress as a Republican in the 4th Congressional District of Illinois,” Gutierrez said, responding to a question from WND.
But if Bush wins, he said, he is “going to need me if he wants to get comprehensive immigration reform passed through the Congress.”
“My support might just be the kiss of death for Jeb Bush when conservatives get wind that ‘radical, socialist Gutierrez’ might get together with Jeb Bush, because then there would be open borders in the U.S.,” Gutierrez quipped.
He noted Mitt Romney in 2012 received some 22 percent of the Latino vote, half of what George W. Bush won.
“The GOP cannot be a national party without the Hispanic vote,” he said.
“I told my own party that the Democrats had the majority in Congress the first two years Barack Obama was president of the United States, and President Obama did not take the Democratic majority in the House and the Senate to pass immigration reform,” he said.
“I will work with Republicans to get immigration reform,” he said.
“When I worked with President George W. Bush on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, I applauded him,” the congressman continued.
Gutierrez recalled that George W. Bush sent his Commerce secretaries, first Donald Evans and then Carlos Gutierrez, along with secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to “roam the halls of Congress” and garner support for the immigration bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
In 2007, Kennedy and McCain sponsored the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act, known simply as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. The bill failed to get cloture in a Senate vote June 7, 2007.
Gutierrez’s comments came prior to his speech at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, NHCLC, a group that represents an estimated 40,000 evangelical Christian churches in the U.S. This year, the organization has joined CONELA, a Latin American-based organization that serves more than 487,000 Latino churches worldwide.
Gutierrez said the importance of the Hispanic vote is demonstrated by the fact that GOP presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are scheduled to address the conference Wednesday, some 18 months before the November 2016 presidential election.
Also expected to be in attendance at the NHCLC conference in Houston are former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara.
Demographics can’t be ignored
Gutierrez said he supported President Obama’s effort to grant work permits for two years to the parents of illegal immigrant children under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that Obama implemented by executive action June 15, 2012.
“I want a legislative solution to immigration reform, because it’s the only permanent fix to that problem,” the congressman said.
He said he doubted the U.S. Circuit Court would reverse the preliminary injunction imposed by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen Feb. 16. The order halted implementation of Obama’s de facto amnesty for up to 5 million illegal aliens, which was executed through a memorandum by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in November. The case was brought by the attorneys general of Texas and 25 other states.
Gutierrez pointed to demographics that cannot be ignored by politicians.
“One million Latinos turn 18 every year, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it,” he said. “The GOP can’t forget that 45 million of the 55 million Latinos in the United States are citizens. We vote and we sit in the pews of the nations churches with those who are not citizens, documented and undocumented alike, citizen children in the same families with undocumented parents. We all sit in church together.”
The U.S. Census Bureau confirms there are approximately 54 million Hispanics living in the U.S., representing some 17 percent of the total U.S. population.
By 2060, it is estimated the Hispanic population will reach 128.8 million, about 31 percent of the U.S. population.
“All Hispanics in the United States are going to be citizens sooner or later,” Gutierrez said. “It is unnatural to us as a nation and a society to have people come here and not give them the opportunity ultimately to become citizens.”
Just last week, at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, when Gutierrez was asked which GOP presidential candidate he “would be able to work with best” on immigration issues, he responded, “We have to stay with the Bush family.”
In response to a student’s question, Gutierrez last week in Chicago praised former President George W. Bush for twice trying to get comprehensive immigration reform passed by Congress. He noted that Jeb Bush two weeks ago, when campaigning in New Hampshire, called illegal immigration an “act of love,” adding that he thought awarding legal status to illegal immigrants is a “rational and thoughtful” way to deal with the issue.