Updated 04/16/11 – 5:55 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — Congressman Luis Gutierrez said Saturday that he doesn’t know if he can support President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election in 2012 if he doesn’t do more to reform immigration policy.
“I have nothing but the greatest desire to vote for Barack Obama. I have nothing but the greatest desire to be helpful, and to join arms with him, and march across this country toward his re-election,” Gutierrez said Saturday. “But I cannot do that. We cannot do that, until we resolve the current conflict that exists between this administration and its immigration policy.”
Gutierrez said Obama needs to use his discretion to stop the deportation of immigrants whose children were born in the U.S.
“There are 4 million American citizen children and those 4 million American citizen children shouldn’t have a federal government whose main goal is the destruction of their family,” Gutierrez said.
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He also read a speech that the president delivered during the 2008 campaign, in which Obama said the system is not working and we need to change it.
Guiterrez told the crowd at a church in Pilsen that he realizes the administration cannot necessarily change the entire immigration policy. But he said he believes it should be changed to keep adult immigrants to stay in the U.S. if they pass a criminal background check and have children who were born here.
“It’s really not a question about a Republican candidate,” he said about possibly supporting another candidate. “It’s a question about how many people are going to turn out to vote and what the level of enthusiasm is going to be.”
Gutierrez has been on a multi-city tour to raise awareness of the effects of deportations on immigrants and their families.
He’s been hearing from immigrants caught in limbo by current immigration policy.
“I don’t owe my allegiance to a party. The party must owe its allegiance to the people,” he said. “I want to make sure comprehensive immigration reform comes about. I really, really hope it comes about in a Democratic administration, but I really wouldn’t care who gets the credit for it.”
Gutierrez is a major supporter of the DREAM Act — a federal proposal that gives illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship through college enrollment and military service.
He also wants the government to offer options to illegal immigrant parents whose children are U.S. citizens.
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