San Diego

Illinois Congressman Visits San Diego Border as DACA Deadline Approaches

Luis Gutierrez, a longtime U.S. Representative for Illinois’ 4th congressional district, is an advocate for immigration reform and Dreamers

Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) visited San Diego Saturday, spending his morning touring the San Diego-Mexico border with U.S. Border Patrol Agents. Gutierrez is one of the loudest voices in Congress when it comes to immigration reform and the tour gave him an opportunity to see the challenges faced daily by agents at the border.

“I think there are many ways to secure the border,” Gutierrez told NBC 7. “I think having more Border Patrol is not a bad thing.”

Gutierrez toured the border with U.S. Border Patrol agents from Imperial Beach, covering about 6 linear miles from the San Ysidro Port of Entry to the Pacific Ocean. He was accompanied by Ammar Campa Najjar, a San Diego native and San Diego State University graduate running for office in California’s 50th Congressional District against Congressman Duncan Hunter.

Gutierrez is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. The congressman feels like undocumented immigrants are being demonized. He also worries about the Trump Administration’s proposal to restrict future immigration.

“I know a lot of people say we have to stop that ‘chain migration.’ That means family visas. If you stop legal immigration, you will cause illegal immigration,” Gutierrez said.

Leaders on both sides have been calling for immigration reform but in the budget that passed this week, there were no protections for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, also known as Dreamers.

Gutierrez said he was disappointed in the deal.

“I think Democrats are always saying, ‘Mañana, mañana, mañana,’ when it comes to the immigrant community and we need to make them understand that it’s today when they need to stand up,” he added.

While Gutierrez has blasted President Trump and other Republicans, he said he is willing to negotiate.

“They’ve taken the Dreamers hostage, and I say pay the ransom. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to be expensive. It’s going to be a lot of border security,” Gutierrez said.

This is Gutierrez’ last year in Congress.

The Senate is set to open debate on an immigration proposal next week. House Speaker Paul Ryan said he’ll only bring up a bill the president supports.

Following their border tour, Gutierrez and Campa-Najjar held a news conference near the USS Midway Museum to rally for Dreamers and urge Congress to pass DACA legislation. The deadline created by President Trump to end protections for DACA recipients is March 5.

Gutierrez also endorsed Campa-Najjar for Congress.

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