Some of the toughest Republican critics of President Obama’s handling of the crisis on the border voted for the legislation they now blame for the humanitarian crisis unfolding there, Rep. Luis GutierrezLuis GutierrezDems: White House canceled ICE immigration meeting ICE head cancels meeting with Hispanic Dems Hispanics are split in DNC race MORE (D-Ill.) argued during an interview on Sunday.
"The border is secure! The fact is that these children are handing themselves over to the border patrol agents," Gutierrez said.
Instead, he said, the crisis stemmed from a 2008 law that automatically entitles minors from non-contiguous countries to asylum hearings before they face deportations. The legislation was intended to address the issue of human trafficking.
The surge in minors has overwhelmed that judicial system, and the problem will persist unless lawmakers provide additional funding for judges and attorneys, Gutierrez said.
“You can keep throwing money and talk about enforcement, enforcement, enforcement, but you've got to put money also into your judicial system, and you've got to put money in a comprehensive program that deals with the issue,” he told CBS News.
Gutierrez singled out two Republican congressmen — Reps. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) and Steve King (R-Iowa) — for criticizing the president despite voting for the 2008 law.
He said Gohmert "hasn't ever seen an immigrant who he hasn't thought was bringing disease to this country," and that King "always says they're criminals."
“They put it in these terms,” Gutierrez said, before noting that “they voted for the 2002 and 2008 law.”
“So when there were calmer times, right, levelheaded people thinking about the issue, we put the children's interests first,” Gutierrez continued. “Remember bipartisanship? This wasn't a Democratic bill.”
The Illinois lawmaker slammed Republicans for criticizing Obama for abiding by the law and offering the children asylum hearings.
“I find Governor Perry interesting in that Republicans keep saying, ‘Well, we can't fix the immigration issue because we don't trust the President to enforce the law,’” he said. “And then, when the president actually follows the law in 2002 and 2008, the very law that was signed by President Bush, they said, 'Well, he should do something different.'"