One of the staunchest proponents of immigration reform says he’ll meet Friday with the Department of Homeland Security secretary and other Obama administration officials to discuss ways to respond to the border crisis.
“In about an hour, I’m going over to the White House," Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I’ll be meeting with Jeh Johnson and the chief legal counsel to the president of the United States. We’re going to sit down and negotiate other terms and avenues the president can use in his prosecutorial discretion."
Gutiérrez has advocated against proposals to make it easier to send undocumented children migrants back to their Central American countries by changing a 2008 human trafficking law. Most congressional Democrats have also come out against the proposal, even though the White House has expressed support for it.
“Do not change the law and let the president use his prosecutorial discretion,” he said, adding that the administration “should stop deporting low priorities — not criminal — undocumented immigrants in this country who have American citizen children.”
Gutiérrez said it’s unlikely the administration would grant refugee status to children in Honduras, which a slew of federal agencies is reportedly considering.
“I don’t see that happening,” said Gutiérrez, who said he met with the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala and the foreign secretary of El Salvador on Thursday.
He applauded their efforts so far to slow the influx of unaccompanied children into the U.S.
“They have many public awareness campaigns now, prosecuting human smugglers, and they are tightening up their own laws now. That’s a good thing because we need to put out information that the children should not come to America through this pathway."
Gutiérrez was also asked if congressional Democrats are afraid to endorse executive actions Obama could take on the border crisis because of the midterm elections.
“I think there are sectors of our party — more in the Senate than anywhere else — that are concerned about their own political viability either in the party or their own particular candidacies in the Democratic Party,” he said. “I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”