Rep. Luis Gutierrez: If Democrats can't pass the DREAM Act now, it's time for Latinos to break away

Why, yes, this is the same Luis Gutierrez who recently told Newsweek, “I have only one loyalty and that’s to the immigrant community.” Sounds like he meant it, too: If you believe this Daily Beast piece, he’s ready to walk away from the Democrats unless the new watered-down DREAM Act passes sometime in the next three weeks. Which … is a pretty darned good incentive for GOP fencesitters to vote no.

The DREAM Act, Gutiérrez says, is for now his final legislative maneuver. He’s finished waiting for the mythical 60th vote to materialize in the Senate. No, when the lame duck ends, Gutiérrez and his movement allies will ask for a divorce—from the Democratic Party, from the entire lawmaking process. To hear Gutiérrez tell it, Hispanic leaders are about to stage a full-tilt campaign of direct action, like the African-American civil-rights movement of the 1960s. There will be protests, marches, sit-ins—what César Chávez might have called going rogue. The movement will operate autonomously, no longer beholden to wavering Democrats, filibustering Republicans, and—perhaps most tantalizingly—no longer beholden to Barack Obama…

“We need to decouple the movement for comprehensive immigration reform and justice for immigrants from the legislative process and from the Democratic Party process,” Gutiérrez says. “They are too linked.”…

This is a pretty radical notion, especially for a sitting congressman. And Gutiérrez is quick to suggest the goals of the Democrats and immigration movement may not jibe. “Is it reelect the president?” Gutiérrez asks. “Is that your priority? Or is it get comprehensive immigration reform? Those things can be in contradiction with one another.”

“The Democratic Party is the party of immigrants. But its leader—in this case, Barack Obama—has to continue to be challenged.”

“I’m not the only one thinking this way,” he added, which is true. The “Tequila Party” is based on the same idea, that the way amnesty’s finally going to happen is by Latinos organizing under a separate umbrella and threatening Democrats with destruction at the polls by staying home. Thus the “dilemma” for Republicans: Vote yes on DREAM now and spare their opponents that horrible fate or vote no and and call Gutierrez’s bluff, leaving him to prove that he’s got the cachet to organize a major movement or that he doesn’t and can be safely ignored. Not much of a dilemma, is it? Besides, if he were serious about amnesty, he’d already have galvanized some GOP support: All he has to do, as he knows full well, is to start pushing serious, verifiable benchmarks for border enforcement and employer verification first. If he made hitting those benchmarks a precondition to legalizing the illegals who are here, he’d give centrist Republicans the cover they need to agree to some form of path to citizenship. But he’s not going to agree to that, precisely because it would mean disloyalty to his true constituency. So whatever. Let the Tequila Party begin.