Gutierrez not ready to warn Latino voters to stay home over immigration

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said this weekend he's not yet ready to advise Latino voters to stay home this fall over immigration reform.

Gutierrez, who's led a push among Democrats for a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year, warned Latino voters to be careful in this fall's midterm elections, noting that even he had not always voted for Democrats.

"I don’t know, I don’t know that we’re there yet. I will tell you that I think the growing frustration and dissatisfaction is there," Gutierrez said during an appearance on KUOR radio in California when asked if Latino voters shouldn't turn out to vote over immigration.

Gutierrez serves as chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's task force on immigration, and has been warning the Obama administration for some time of the political consequences he might seek if the White House does not use the sizable Democratic majorities in Congress to do reform.

"I haven’t made that judgment but I think that Latinos and immigrant voters should be careful," the Chicago-area Democrat said. "I’ll tell you what. I didn’t vote for every Democrat in the last election. When I got a ballot, I voted for those Democrats that shared my views, shared my passions and that shared my politics for public policy."

House leaders have said they're looking to the Senate to start first on immigration reform, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he hopes to move an immigration bill this year. Other Senate leaders have acknowledged, though, the difficulty of moving such legislation along with an energy and climate bill this year.

But while Gutierrez has threatened to try to drive down Latino turnout -- something which would hurt Democrats an election cycle that's expected to be tough for the incumbent party -- he also speculated that anger over Arizona's tough, new laws against illegal immigration might also mobilize Latinos this fall.

"You know, I also see Arizona and I’ll tell you, whatever frustration and anger exists because of the inaction of the Congress of the United States, I think there might be a more compelling reason to come out and vote because of Arizona," he said. "So, everything tends to balance themselves out in the political equation."

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