U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, presented his vision for a new comprehensive immigration reform bill Tuesday at a rally on the west lawn of the United States Capitol.
He spoke in front of thousands of immigrants who came to the capitol to calling for comprehensive immigration reform. He plans to introduce a full bill in the coming weeks.
His proposal focuses on a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, but also includes proposals for protecting immigrant workers, better employee verification systems, and stronger border enforcement.
“We need a bill that says if you come here to hurt our communities, we will not support you, but if you are here to work hard and to make a better life for your family, you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship,” Gutierrez said. “We need a law that says it is un-American for a mother to be torn from her child, and it is unacceptable to undermine our work force by driving the most vulnerable among us further into the shadows.”
Critics say Gutierrez’s proposal amounts to an amnesty proposal for those who broke American laws.
"Amnesty sends a message that you’re a sucker to play by the rules," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which promotes stronger immigration enforcement, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Congressman Gutierrez released on his website the following outline of the core principles that he will use in his reform bill:
– Pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants
– Effective border enforcement
– Humane interior enforcement
– Protecting immigrant workers
– Stronger verification systems
– Family unification
– Updated visa system
– Agriculture jobs
– Access to college for undocumented students
Photo: Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., speaks at a rally for immigration reform on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)