By Mike Lillis - 04/18/11 07:19 PM EDT
A liberal House Democrat warned Monday that he could withhold support for President Obama next year if the White House doesn't do more on immigration reform.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who represents sections of Obama's political base of Chicago, told MSNBC he wants to root for Obama in 2012, but the president's record on immigration reform has left the Illinois Democrat weighing his options. Gutierrez said he remains "undecided" about his favored candidate next year.
Gutierrez made similar remarks over the weekend.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the lawmaker told a large crowd at Lincoln United Methodist Church in Chicago that Obama should use his executive powers to stop the deportation of people with children who are U.S. citizens.
"I have nothing but the greatest desire to vote for Barack Obama. I have nothing but the greatest desire to be helpful, and to join arms with him, and march across this country toward his reelection," Gutierrez said in Chicago. "But I cannot do that. We cannot do that, until we resolve the current conflict that exists between this administration and its immigration policy.” Gutierrez said Latino voters are dissatisfied with Obama's progress on the issue. He's concerned it will mean smaller voter turnout in 2012, according to the published report.
Neither speaking for immigration reform nor criticizing the White House is new to Gutierrez. In an interview with The Hill a year ago, Gutierrez suggested Latino voters would stay home in November if the Democratic Party does not make a concerted effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"So when I look at a community of people that is undecided, I want to bring them to the decision table in favor of the president. But the president has to act to complete his promise," Gutierrez said Monday.
"I'm undecided. I want him to make me a decided voter for Barack Obama, by making the kinds of decisions that is going to bring his promises to fruition during his administration," he added.
Gutierrez is currently using the congressional recess period to tour the country in support of comprehensive immigration reform — an issue Obama supported on the presidential campaign trail.
Gutierrez's warning highlights the political tightrope Obama is walking between the Republican support he needs to enact legislation and the liberal support he'll need to win reelection.
In December, Obama led an attempt to pass the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrant children who do well in school or join the military. The bill passed the House but was shot down in the Senate, where supporters couldn't summon the 60 votes required to defeat a Republican filibuster.
Gutierrez on Monday said that if Obama wants his support next year, he'll have to go to bat once again for immigration reform.
"I want this president to be successful," Gutierrez said. "He can be successful if he addresses the issue and takes the kind of discretion he has in his hands in order to alleviate the problems."