Rep. Gutierrez on how Obama may act on illegal immigration

Congressman meets with Chicago mayor to prepare for changes


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 27, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Delaying deportations, maybe millions of them. Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez is so confident the president is set to do this that he has been meeting with leaders in Chicago, preparing for all of this.

All right, so, Congressman, you have got to know something we do not. What?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, D-ILL.: Well, actually, I have been listening very, very carefully. We have been in meetings with people at Homeland Security, at the White House for months now.

And I think the fact that Speaker Boehner informed the president early in July that he was not going to take action on the Senate bill or any action on any immigration bill, the president said, well, now it is time for me to act. And I'm happy he's going to do that.

CAVUTO: Well, wait a minute. There was the House bill. There was the House bill. It is going nowhere in the Senate.

GUTIERREZ: Which bill was that? Which bill was that, Neil?




GUTIERREZ: But there is no -- there is no bill to our fix our broken immigration system in the House.


CAVUTO: Well, you are saying the Republicans didn't have a plan in the House. They had a plan. It's going nowhere, right?

GUTIERREZ: What they did is -- they did.

I -- I worked with them, as you know, religiously on the preparation of a bill.

CAVUTO: Right.

GUTIERREZ: And in the end, the speaker said he's never going call it for a vote, and we're not going to do anything in the House of Representatives.

In the Senate, they voted on 68-34, with about a dozen Republicans. They had a plan. And, hey, when the House Republicans said to the president, Neil, it can't be the Senate bill, he said OK. When he said everybody can't become a citizen right away, he said OK. When he said we have got to do it in parts and pieces, we can't do it holistically, he said OK. But in the end...


GUTIERREZ: ... he simply walked away.


CAVUTO: Yes, but when did he say -- when did he say that millions of illegals were going to be granted amnesty? Because if what you are saying is right, he is prepared to do that.

GUTIERREZ: What he said is, if the House of Representatives and the Congress act, then he will act.

CAVUTO: And how is he going to he act?


CAVUTO: Again, I'm sorry, Congressman.


CAVUTO: How is he going to he act? What's he going to do?

GUTIERREZ: Well, here is what I think. Here is what I think.

Here is what I believe is going to happen. He is going to say, God, there's over six million undocumented workers that have been here 10 years or more. And they have established roots in their community.

They have American citizen wives.

CAVUTO: So, what's he going to do?

GUTIERREZ: They have American citizen children. They have...

CAVUTO: You're saying six million then will be granted status here?

GUTIERREZ: No. I don't know. I'm simply saying that there are six million who have been here 10 years.


CAVUTO: Oh, I think you know.


CAVUTO: I think you are pretty -- you are tight with the president and you are tight with the White House. So, I don't think you just say this stuff out of turn.

GUTIERREZ: No, no, no.


CAVUTO: Have you heard from the White House that it is looking at granting over six million illegals amnesty?

GUTIERREZ: Neil, Neil, Neil, I'm going to tell you something. Please.

Do not tell your viewing audience that I have heard this from the White House. I have not heard this from the -- this is what I believe is going to happen. This is what I am betting is going to happen. And because you and I are friends, I'm sharing you my thinking on the issue, which may not -- which may not be the same as the White House.


CAVUTO: Well, obviously, you have been meeting with leaders.

OK. OK. OK. OK. So, you have been meeting with leaders. No one at the White House has told you this is the plan?

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely not.

CAVUTO: So -- OK. So...

GUTIERREZ: But if you ask me what I believe, I think he's going to say...

CAVUTO: If the president -- all right. So, if the president doesn't do that, doesn't grant these millions permanent status, then what?

GUTIERREZ: Well, then I think we will have missed an opportunity to use executive authority to help millions of American citizen children, five million of them, who have undocumented parents. And they're going to continue to live in fear.

CAVUTO: Is that the president's power to do alone by executive authority?

GUTIERREZ: Oh, I think the president has ample power, under the laws the nation.

Now, he cannot, like a magic wand, grant it to five million people. He can say things like -- Neil, and I'm trying to have a really serious conversation -- he can say things like, well, if you have American citizen children and you have been here 10 years, and you can go to a background check, right, you have got to go through a -- and you're ready to pay to go through that, and you're ready to register with the government, I will give you a work permit for two years, until the Congress of the United States finally decides to deal.

And then you will pay your taxes. You will work legally in the United States for a couple of years. And he can grant that for a couple of years to millions of people. I think he can do that.

Look, Neil, seven out of 10 of our agricultural workers that pick our fruit and pick our vegetables, we already know because the Department of Labor and Agriculture will you this, are undocumented workers. I think it's time for them, who have worked hard and do pretty back-breaking work, to allow them to do it legally in the United States.

CAVUTO: All right, let's say he does. OK, then let's say he does that. Let's say he does that, Congressman.

Republicans and Democrats have been telling me on air and off air, he does that, you might as well kiss the Senate goodbye. What do you think of that?

GUTIERREZ: Ah. Here is what I think.

I think we have to stop playing politics with good public policy. I think we need to put the interest of our economy first. Our high-tech industry needs changes that the president can make. Our agricultural industry, we provide -- provide us the food that we eat every day.

And millions of people that do pretty good work and are pretty good people and have an immigration problem, they want to register with the government. I think it's going to make us safer. I think we need to put safety first, ahead of politics.

CAVUTO: Well, do you think -- Republicans, I think, I talked to one -- one of your colleagues earlier, sir, who said they would open to even this kind of stuff, if, along with it, the president was serious about policing the border, enforcing the border.

And time and again, they argue that he is not. Even some of your Democratic colleagues agree he had sort of a one-way message, and it is not about policing the border.


GUTIERREZ: Look, he has deported more people than any president prior to him. Yes, there are...


CAVUTO: Yes, we have got more illegals here than we ever had before.

GUTIERREZ: No, actually not.

It's been a pretty constant. And the border is pretty neutral, because there aren't that many people.

And so you keep saying sir. Neil, you and I are friends. I don't call my friends sir. I came on this program because you and I can have a conversation.


CAVUTO: I call you congressman. I have respect for you.


GUTIERREZ: Why do you think I come on this program?


CAVUTO: Well, I think -- here is what I think then, Congressman. Here is what I think.

I think you seem to know the thinking in the White House, that he is going to do something, he is going to do blame it on Republicans.


CAVUTO: Well, but he could look to say, look, I tried to work with them. They are not working with me.

What do you think the fallout will be if millions who are here illegally are now granted essentially amnesty.

GUTIERREZ: Here's what I think the fallout is going to be.

There were millions of people in jubilation, happiness, in America that they no longer have to fear being separated from their husbands and wives and children.

CAVUTO: Do you think it will embolden millions more to follow them here illegally?

GUTIERREZ: No. I don't think that is going to happen, because I think the president is going to set a date.


GUTIERREZ: Look, it is going to be a date. I don't know how many. Is he going to say, you have to be here, five, seven?


CAVUTO: You know what? You know exactly what he's going to do. You have even hinted at how he is going to stagger this out.

GUTIERREZ: But here is what I have asked the president. I have asked and demanded that this president be as broad and as generous to immigrants as Republicans have been small when it comes to our immigrant community.

And if I have made that demand, then I have to get ready in my community to accept that.

CAVUTO: How have they -- how have they been small? How have Republicans been small to the immigrant community by just saying there are rules and a process we establish and that if over 10 million are here illegally, we have got to police them?


GUTIERREZ: I will tell you. I will tell you. I will be happy to tell you that.

I was in the group of eight, right, in the House of Representatives.


GUTIERREZ: And it fell apart. And then I worked and the Republicans brought -- remember, in January of this year, they brought together their principles? And what did I say? I celebrated their principle.

Maybe I should have said bad things about the Republican principles. I have said, whatever you want to do, I am ready to work with you. And in the end, the speaker simply said, we can't do anything. Remember when the speaker went back in the spring recess...


CAVUTO: What about the Democratic colleagues, especially those in Texas, who say the president hasn't been supportive and support Texas Governor Perry for sending 3,000 National Guardsmen to the border?

GUTIERREZ: Can I say one thing?


GUTIERREZ: He is the exception to the rule.

He is the exception to the rule. And you I both know, in our basic class of logic, if there is only one exception to the rule, the rule is that most of believe that the president has been...


CAVUTO: Then what about all of those vulnerable Democrats who are running for reelection, some of them in red states and some of them not in red states, who are saying pretty much the same thing?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what I say.

You know what? We should have done it when we were in the majority. But you know what, Neil? Democrats were too afraid, thinking we were going to lose too many seats in 2006 and in 2008. We would lose too many seats if we did immigration reform.

So, we didn't fulfill our commitment. We didn't -- we weren't true to who we were and our values, because we thought we were going to lose the House of Representatives. We lost the House of Representatives anyways in 2010. And we didn't fulfill our commitment.

Now the opportunity is for the Republican Party to do the same. And what do they do? They walk away. Everybody walks away from this issue.

But if it is The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, it's the Chamber of Commerce of the AFL-CIO, they want immigration reform.


CAVUTO: You have both been busy walking away.

GUTIERREZ: I'm sorry?

CAVUTO: You have both been busy walking away.

GUTIERREZ: No, no, Neil, I have to tell you something.


CAVUTO: Democrats from enforcement.

You might be different, Congressman. But I'll tell you, there has been a lot of walking away going on.


GUTIERREZ: Let me just say -- no, Neil, let me just very, very clearly the Democrats are not in charge of the House of Representatives.


CAVUTO: Well, who is running the Senate? Who is running the Senate? Why would they propose a measure in the Senate that doesn't address enforcement?


CAVUTO: And if they propose something that is not the Senate bill that says everybody can't become a citizen, if they want to do it in parts and pieces, I say, I'm ready to work with you to do that.

CAVUTO: Congressman, tell us when this event you don't know is going to happen is going to happen.

GUTIERREZ: I got -- here's my hope. It will happen before the election.


GUTIERREZ: Sometime in the next 45 days before the election, because I think there should be no political consideration or consequences considered. We should do it because it is the right thing for America to do.


Congressman, thank you very much. Sorry for going over there.

GUTIERREZ: Thanks, Neil. All right.

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