Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez of Chicago (D-IL), a congressional advocate for immigrants, has scheduled a public meeting this Sunday with immigrants, their allies and leaders in Charleston.
“I believe that we need to prepare ourselves for the implementation of the anti-immigrant legislation passed by the (SC) state Legislature,” says Gutierrez. “I’m going there to listen to how it people are preparing themselves and how I can interact with them and get the federal government to be a stronger advocate.”
South Carolina’s new law allows local law enforcement to check immigration status on anyone stopped for other violations. Supporters say it enables them to add to failed federal efforts. Critics, like Gutierrez, say it leads to racial profiling.
Gutierrez chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Immigration, and is calling for immigration reform in Congress — and for more affirmative action from the White House. His community forum on immigration is Sunday afternoon in downtown Charleston.
He says that ramped up federal enforcement and state level measures in South Carolina and elsewhere have left immigrant communities feeling under siege. “What are they going to ask, are they going to ask everyone for their papers? Is Senator Jim DeMint going to give you a pass if someone is taking you to church on Sunday? What about family values in South Carolina? So the American citizen children of undocumented workers, are they OK?” challenges the congressman.
Gutierrez blames Senator DeMint for blocking comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the Senate:
“We can’t have 50 different laws in 50 different states. It is true that the federal government needs to assume more responsibility but it is also true that people like Sen. DeMint need to step aside and get out of the way if he really wishes to have an immigration policy that really reflects the values and the history and tradition of immigrants here in this country,” Gutierrez says.
Next stop for the Congressman, Alabama.