• March 1st, 2024
  • Friday, 08:38:03 AM

President Has a Lot to Learn About Families

Photo: Office of Congressman Gutiérrez Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez with is grandson, Luis Andres.

Editor’s Note: Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke last week on the House floor about President Trump and families. The Congressman, noted that President Trump was recently, and conveniently, interrupted by his granddaughter during an oval office interview with the New York Times about the Russia investigation that was not going so well, so Congressman Gutiérrez, standing in front of a picture of himself with his grandson Luis Andres, pointed out lessons that Donald Trump should learn about parents, grandparents, children, refugees and immigrants.


I think the President has a lot to learn about families. In my opinion, families should be protected and families should remain intact whenever possible, but it is clear the President has other notions.

In the President’s world, families can and should be cut off from health insurance coverage. So, he is working with Republicans to take coverage away from 20 or 30 million Americans so they can say they made good on a campaign promise, regardless of the consequences in real people’s lives.

In the President’s world, children – especially his children – do not have to be honest when they apply for security clearances or disclose all the meetings they had with Russians.

When Luis Andres turns 18 and is able to vote – just like a million Latino citizens do every year – I know he will remember which party stood for and stood by families and which did not.

In the President’s world, children and grandchildren can be convenient political props, like when a 6-year-old granddaughter is sent into the Oval Office to interrupt an interview with the New York Times – especially when that interview is not going so well for him.

But grandchildren and grandparents, in the President’s world, do not have a quote/unquote “bona-fide” family connection when it comes to being refugees.

In the latest incarnation of his Muslim and refugee Ban, the President excluded grandparents from the category of close family members.

Well, let me tell you something, if the President can be interrupted by his grandchild to shake up an interview that isn’t going so well, I can ask my grandson to help me make a point here in the Congress.

This is Luis Andres, my grandson. You see, in the Gutiérrez family, grandparents and grandchildren are pretty close family members and have a “bona fide” family connection.

In fact, Luis Andres lives downstairs from me with his mom and dad in the ground floor unit of our Two-Flat in Chicago.

And growing up with grandma and grandpa upstairs has distinct advantages. There is always someone to feed you, watch you, or take you somewhere or just joke around with you.

Throughout much of the world, and throughout American history until fairly recently, the idea that families do not include grandparents is laughable.  Multiple generations live together or very nearby, and grandparents, even great-grandparents, are an integral part of the family unit and share child rearing responsibilities.

So when you’re in Syria or Yemen, Central Africa or Central América – places where surviving day to day without being killed by gunmen, governments or gangs is not easy – extended, multi-generational families not only live together and support each other, occasionally they have to flee to safety together.

But not if Donald Trump has his way, they don’t – or at least they can’t come here.

Thankfully, the American court system disagrees with our President on this. Hawaii sued the President, again, and won an injunction, again. And the Supreme Court, which will ultimately determine the fate of América’s commitment to refugees and religious tolerance, will determine the case later this year.

But in the meantime, over the objections of the President, grandparents are officially part of the family and have a “bona-fide” relationship that allows them – under law – to bypass the President’s attempt to keep them out.

Thank you, courts, for recognizing and defending families and giving our President a lesson in the obvious.

On July 23rd, I learned about the tragedy in San Antonio where a truck packed with migrants was discovered and at least 10 people were killed.

The truck had no ventilation or air-conditioning, there was no water for those inside who had likely paid a lot of money to risk their lives to live in América; Ten dead and another 20 near death – some of them children – under the hot Texas sun in an apparent smuggling operation.

This, Mr. Speaker, is another lesson in families that I hope the President will learn from.

If we cut off legal immigration channels and make people wait decades for a visa – if they are eligible to apply at all – it strengthens the hand of the smugglers.

If we turn asylum seekers around – in violation of our own law and international law – those seeking freedom are driven into the arms of smugglers.

If by going through our legal system and requesting asylum, your entire family becomes vulnerable to deportation – being sent back to a place you fled because death was a certainty –then people will pay smugglers to go around our system because there are no ways to go through it.

A border wall, like the one Republicans will slip into a military spending bill this week in the House, will not help matters, but only make them worse.

Forcing people to enter the black market because there is no way to go through our visa system will undoubtedly increase the number of times we hear about tragedies like the one in Texas and the number of parents, grandparents and children who lose everything because we have failed to create and maintain a functioning immigration system.

When Luis Andres turns 18 and is able to vote – just like a million Latino citizens do every year – I know he will remember which party stood for and stood by families and which did not.

Rep. Gutiérrez is in his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois.  He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.