• July 24th, 2024
  • Wednesday, 06:22:41 AM

This is Not the Country We Aspire to Be

Photo: Office of Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez

Editor’s Note: The following are remarks by Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez on his second day (Mar. 7) in a row addressing the House from the floor on immigration, noting that we have passed the deadline to enact legislation to protect Dreamers with DACA without action.


Yesterday (Mar 6), I talked about the immigrants Donald Trump doesn’t really care for, like the Dreamers who were raised in the United States and are now vulnerable to deportation. Then, there are refugees from war and religious persecution. He doesn’t really care for them either.

Let’s see, there are the people from El Salvador or Haiti or Africa – the people from shithole countries. Trump would rather deport than protect them. And he doesn’t want them coming legally either.

As we all know by now, Trump prefers immigrants from ‘snowhole countries’ like Norway. Yep, you take a look at the Winter Olympics leader-board of the countries that won medals and that is a pretty good list of who Trump wants to have here. Norway, check. Canada, check.  Netherlands? OK. But we better add Russia.

If you look like a parking attendant or a busboy or a field hand or the King of Wakanda – in the eyes of our President, you are not welcome.

President Trump has been blocking any kind of immigration legislation because he will only agree to, say, protect Dreamers from deportation, if he can eliminate whole categories of legal immigration.

And not just any immigration, but specifically the programs that are filled with people who want to come to the United States legally from Asia, Africa, and Latin América.

He is especially opposed to diversity in our immigration system and among the programs he insists we eliminate is the one most often used by immigrants from Africa, the Diversity Visa Program.

So, Trump’s immigration approach is pretty simple: If you are white, you’re alright. If you are brown, you are lower down. And if you are black, just go back.

The other group of people Trump is particularly angry about are the family members of U.S. citizens and those who are on the path to becoming U.S. citizens.

He insists that we need to take away the rights of U.S. citizens – to petition for their immediate family. Nope, Trump thinks U.S. citizens cannot be trusted to petition for their own family members.

Which is kind of strange, because he does not have to look very far to find an immigrant American citizen who petitioned – legally – for her parents to come to the United States.

According to the Washington Post, “The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status… Immigration experts said [they] very likely relied on a family reunification process that President Trump has derided as ‘chain migration’ and proposed ending in such cases.”

But the in-laws are from Slovenia and that country won two medals at the Winter Olympics, so I guess they are OK.

Let us remember that the First Lady is here because she applied for and received an “extraordinary ability visa” which is often called an Einstein visa because we give it to Nobel Prize winners.

But we also give the Einstein visa to musicians and artists…and models.

The First Lady’s extraordinary abilities are many, I am sure.

Now, I want you to recall that one of the issues in Jared Kushner’s security clearance was that he owes so much money to foreigners that some people might be able leverage that debt into an application for another visa program just for millionaires and fat cats.

Yes, in América, if you have a million dollars or you look like a million dollars, you can get a visa.

But if you look like a parking attendant or a busboy or a field hand or the King of Wakanda – in the eyes of our President, you are not welcome.

Look, let me break it down from my perspective. That is not the country we aspire to be. My mother came from Puerto Rico with a 5th grade education and Puerto Rico has never won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. But guess what. Her daughter is a public school teacher and her son is a Congressman and that is what the American story is all about.

Not special treatment. Not special programs just for the rich and the beautiful. And not special fast-tracking for the President’s family, especially when he is going after so many other people’s families who look like mine.


Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.


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