UPDATED 08/30/11 12:31 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has launched a new push to inform immigrants about new deportation rules.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, Gutierrez has been leading efforts to try to get the Obama administration to soften its stance on illegal immigration.
On Tuesday at the office of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Gutierrez stopped short of declaring victory. But he did argue that the announcement this week of a change to federal deportation policies is an important first step.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Gutierrez said President Obama deserves praise — and re-election — for making the change in his administration’s policies.
The policy change means that 300,000 open deportation cases will be reviewed by immigration panels that will include members of the U.S. Justice and Homeland Security departments.
“After that review from the panel, they will take the high-priority cases – that’s the drug dealers, the gangbangers, the people who cause havoc, and pain, and destruction in our community, and they’ll say, ‘Goodbye!’” Gutierrez said. “And here’s our hope – that the students, and young men and women, will be left behind here in the United States of America.”
The new policy was announced by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week. Under the new rules, many illegal immigrants who faced deportation despite having no criminal record will be allowed to stay in the country and apply for work permits.
Republican lawmakers have balked at the plan, with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) calling it “backdoor amnesty to illegal immigrants.”
Gutierrez has a reply for those comments.
“I say it’s about families. There are 4 million American citizen children. They’re going to be 4 million American citizen adults one day, and what President Barack Obama said, ‘You know what? I really don’t want to prioritize their moms and their dads. I’d rather they stay here and cherish and love,” he said.
The new policy does not have a path to citizenship, but Gutierrez says the fight continues.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)