Actions speak louder than words, no matter what language they’re in
Guest post by Rep. Luis Gutierrez
I want my U.S. Senators in Illinois to be consistent allies for immigrants and fighters for immigration reform. I want them to be in touch with the concerns of the Latino community and the city of Chicago. I don’t want them to oppose immigrant rights on principle and occasionally flip-flop when it’s politically convenient. And I sure don’t want them to frequently embarrass the state of Illinois by making Trump-like offensive comments, especially about immigrants and Latinos. That’s why I’m voting for Democrat Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate this November and I urge everyone reading this to do the same.
For the last four years, I have served in the U.S. House of Representatives with Tammy and she’s been at my side, fighting for immigration reform. Republican Mark Kirk, on the other hand, has been nowhere to be found — until recently when he started running for re-election. Suddenly he wants to claim the mantle of immigration reform. Kirk’s decision to start talking about immigration reform may be politically convenient but it lacks political conviction.
Let’s recap what I’m talking about. During his decades in Washington, Senator Kirk voted to make all undocumented immigrants felons, which would require mandatory detention and make undocumented immigrants ineligible for a path to citizenship. He was one of the deciding votes against the DREAM Act, which would have allowed immigrants who came to this country at a young age to become citizens if they went to college or joined the military. Kirk joined hardline conservatives in voting against debating a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill in 2013, only giving in after a significant amount of political pressure. Two years later, he even voted with Republicans to hold the Department of Homeland Security’s funding hostage in order to stop the President’s executive actions to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. Then, after a chorus of criticism back home, he reversed himself instead of risking more harm to his re-election campaign.
Last year, Senator Kirk absurdly called those executive actions to protect immigrants from deportation “incredibly condescending to Latinos.” In 2014, he shamefully accused children fleeing gang violence in Central America of being criminals to make people afraid of having our country take them in. And don’t forget the speech he gave in 2007 arguing that the solution to illegal immigration was sending birth control to Mexico.
Unlike Kirk, Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has been a consistent friend to the millions of hardworking immigrants in communities around the country and she will be a Senator that prioritizes keeping families together. When Mark Kirk thought all undocumented immigrants were felons in 2005, Tammy supported comprehensive immigration reform. She did it because it was the right thing to do, even though it was unpopular.
Today in Congress, Tammy is a cosponsor of the ENLIST Act, which allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children to earn a green card by serving in the US Military. She is currently working with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and me on an investigation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tactics in deporting undocumented immigrants. She has shown her support for all communities and Americans regardless of race throughout her lifetime of service to this country.
So the next time I hear Senator Kirk say he’s better qualified to represent Illinois than Tammy Duckworth because he can speak a little Spanish, remember this. Actions speak louder than words, no matter what language they’re in.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez represents Illinois’ fourth congressional district.