For Rep. Luis Gutierrez, there is no question of whether Democrats should vote against a budget bill that has funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
“The Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives and the US Senators would basically have to turn their back on a key constituent group right, which are Latinos, and on fairness and justice, because it’s immoral to talk about that wall,” Gutierrez told David Axelrod on the “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
The House approved a spending bill at the end of July with $1.6 billion allocated towards a wall on the US-Mexico border. Gutierrez argued that his party must fight against this piece of the appropriations bill with the same fervor as they would for any of their other platform issues.
“Democrats have to be consistent,” he said. “You know if this were for defunding Planned Parenthood we wouldn’t even have a question of Democrats sitting down and negotiating for that budget. If this were to eliminate same-sex marriage, we wouldn’t have a conversation as Democrats whether we were going to vote for that budget.”
“If it’s for deportation and splitting up families and destroying the ‘Dreamers,’ Democrats have to say that’s a line we won’t cross either. That’s a key fundamental value of our Democratic Party,” Gutierrez continued. “And you know and I think we’re going to meet that challenge. I really do believe we’re going to meet that challenge.”
This is not the only obstacle that Gutierrez believes the Democratic Party has to prepare for when it comes to issues of immigration. The Illinois congressman told Axelrod he predicts Trump will rescind or revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA) before September 5, the deadline for the administration to take action before ten state attorneys general challenge the policy in court.
Gutierrez does not have much optimism for a legislative approach to immigration reform, telling Axelrod he believes that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans in Congress will “never” give them a vote on it.
“What unites the Republican Party is being anti-immigrant. It is the one thing that unites them across the board,” Gutierrez said. “There’s no political will in the Republican Party to allow a vote for immigrants.”
Gutierrez said that the Trump administration’s response to any bipartisan efforts at immigration reform was to say “we’re for deportation … we don’t want to discuss procedures of legalization.”
When asked about chief of staff John Kelly, whose purview as the former secretary of homeland security was immigration, Gutierrez said “I don’t think he knows what he’s doing.”
“I think he has absolutely no understanding of the Department of Homeland Security,” he said, citing examples of what he believes is Kelly’s supposed lack of awareness on the Supreme Court DACA ruling and “prosecutorial discretion” on deportations.
“He may be a great general but he knows nothing about the Department of Homeland Security,” Gutierrez said.