Friday, Aug. 6, 2010 | 1:47 p.m.
Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), one of President Barack Obama's earliest campaign supporters, today accused Obama of poor leadership and failing in his commitment to legislate immigration reform.
"Barack Obama has got to lead," Gutierrez lamented to a group of reporters in Las Vegas, after giving a speech to members of the Culinary Workers Union.
Gutierrez, the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, is livid that immigration reform has stalled in Congress. He blames Democratic leadership, specifically the president, for the inaction.
"I wish the president could be a little more supportive and make it a priority," Gutierrez said. "I haven't given up that this president can do the right thing, but we have to pressure him to do better. I don't think he understands the gravity."
Gutierrez is pushing for adoption of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would secure U.S. borders and deport people convicted of crimes, but also create visa programs for undocumented workers and protect children of illegal immigrants from family separation. Gutierrez hopes such a bill can be passed when Congress reconvenes next month. He points to health care reform as a prime example that major initiatives can get greenlighted.
If immigration reform costs Democrats races in November elections, Gutierrez said he can live with the cost.
"I'm ready for my party to get beat up," he said. "Because sometimes with what is right...somebody has to take leadership on the issue and move it forward."
Gutierrez, who was first elected to Congress in 1992, is being challenged in the 4th District of Illinois by Republican Israel C. Vasquez and Green Party candidate Robert J. Burns.