Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) on Tuesday compared President Obama's expected unilateral action on immigration to President Truman desegregating the military by executive order.

Gutiérrez noted there was a key difference between Obama and Truman. President Obama has waited for more than two years for Congress to pass immigration reform first, while Truman issued the executive order in 1948 without holding off for Congress first.


"President Truman never asked Congress for legislation or gave them two years to act. But President Obama, as he contemplates taking executive actions to keep families together and spare certain immigrants from deportation, knows that he did ask Congress to act and he did give us time, repeatedly, to act," Gutiérrez said on the House floor.

The Illinois Democrat argued that history will view Obama's immigration action in a similar way as Truman's order to desegregate the military.

"I would venture to guess that there are not too many members of Congress today who wish that Truman did not desegregate the military or had waited — however long it took — for Congress to evolve on the segregation issue," Gutiérrez said. "He used his pen and we celebrate his courage today."

Gutiérrez expressed hope that the executive order will push Congress to pass an overhaul of immigration laws.

"Just like the 1950s and 1960s after President Harry Truman desegregated the military, it will be time for the Congress to catch up to the executive branch and catch up to reality," Gutiérrez said.