Congressman Optimistic Obama Will Grant Immigrants Legal Status

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Protesters wave to motorists on the Wardlow Road overpass of the 605 Freeway in Long Beach on Saturday. (Credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

In a fiery speech at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said he was confident after meeting with President Obama last week that the president will move forward in the coming months with an executive order that would grant legal status to millions of immigrants in the country illegally, possibly including the parents of American-born children.

Gutierrez, speaking on the first day of the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, also took aim at Republicans for failing to pass immigration reform legislation and warned that there would be a political price to pay. He chastised the harsh rhetoric in conservative corners against a surge of tens of thousands of Central American youths who illegally crossed the Southwestern border in recent months fleeing violence in their home countries.

“We sat down with the president of the United States and we said to him, ‘Mr. President, we want you to be as generous and broad and wise as the Republicans have been small and mean-spirited,'” said Gutierrez, who has long been an outspoken advocate of immigration reform on the national stage. He said the president’s response was positive.

Obama has said before that he’s convinced House Republicans will not take action to reform immigration laws this year and vowed to use his executive authority to “fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress.” Republicans have countered that this will only make existing border problems worse.