Gutierrez has followed up sound-bite missiles like that with something akin to a victory lap through America’s urban areas. He tells immigrants it is “my responsibility, now that [Obama] has done the executive action, to sign up as many people as possible.” That means getting them to pre-register for the time next year when applications will be available for what is likely to lead to amnesty.
But Gutierrez makes clear that his ultimate goal is to put as many illegal immigrants as possible on a path to U.S. citizenship. Last year, he told reporters that without eventual citizenship, immigrants would be treated just as slaves were in the original Constitution, when they were counted as only three-fifths of a person. He told reporters that it’s vital that immigrants have “the ability to acquire American citizenship, so you do not create a permanent underclass of individuals that aren’t.”
In reality, what both President Obama and Representative Gutierrez are vitally concerned about isn’t the policy of immigration reform but the politics. Both men are acutely aware that if the kind of assimilation efforts that mainstreamed previous generations of immigrants into U.S. society can be stigmatized and blocked, they have a chance to turn illegal immigrants into a powerful liberal voting bloc that is dependent on Democrats for benefits and patronage jobs.