Rep. Luis Gutierrez takes on Obama, immigration, in new book

Illinois Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez spoke to NBC Latino’ s Sandra Lilley about his new book, Still Dreaming: My Journey from The Barrio to Capitol Hill.

In his book, the Puerto Rican congressman says that while he has agreed with President Obama on almost everything, “it’s a universal truth among Latinos and those of us who aspire to immigration reform -that he let us down.”

Gutierrez says that while immigration proponents wanted Obama to take action, it was not until Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio planned to introduce legislation for DREAMers that the President took action on deferred deportation.

“Once he (Obama) took and did deferred action  – once he did that, our community embraced him,” he said, pointing to the overwhelming Latino vote for Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

When asked whether immigration reform legislation will take place in Congress in the next few months, Gutierrez said yes.

“We are going to have legislation.  Two thousand Latinos turn 18 every day – and that’s today – in 10 years it will be 2500. It will be a demographic tsunami you cannot alter,” he said, adding Congress is going through a “dark period” but will come out in a few months’ time.

On why a Puerto Rican legislator, who is automatically born a citizen, has become the ‘face’ of immigration reform in Congress, Gutierrez says his mother and father came to New York from Puerto Rico in 1952 and had a very “immigrant experience.”

“If you picked up a newspaper in 1952, what would you have read about Puerto Ricans?” said Gutierrez.  “You have to stop them from coming here, number one, number two they’re bringing diseases, they don’t work, and they want to be on welfare” – stereotypes Gutierrez said exist today about immigrants.

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