An Illinois Congressman brings his "Campaign for American Children and Families" national immigration tour to Pittsburgh this evening. U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez will speak at a town hall meeting at St. Benedict the Moor Church in the Hill District.
Gutierrez says that every year 400,000 undocumented people are being deported from the U.S. but he admits there's little chance to approve legislation to address immigration problems.
He says he comes to cities like Pittsburgh to listen to people's stories..."We think the testimonies are important to changing people's hearts, people's minds and encouraging them to take action. So we come to listen to the impact, the detrimental impact, the destructive impact the broken immigration system has had."
Gutierrez says every city has people with different experiences...
"A woman in Napa Valley, California came back to the U.S. after she was deported and separated from her American citizen husband and her husband took his life because he couldn't deal with the separation. Eventually the system worked and she came back the the American citizen child." An estimated 4 million American citizen children have 1 or both parents who are in the country illegally.
He says reform also must address the 65,000 undocumented young people who graduate high school each year...
"It's stupid and silly to deport these kids because they came as 3 and 4 year olds, they didn't willingly break a law entering the U.S.....we should celebrate their success." Twelve U.S. Senators have urged President Obama to issue an executive order to block the deportation of students eligible for the DREAM Act until a bill is passed.
Gutierrez says the nation cannot deport its way out of the immigration problem..."use the foll force of law enforcement to go after the (undocumented) gang bangers and drug dealers and rapists and murderers...people who do us harm."
The congressman says the goal should be to prevent undocumented people from coming to this country and make sure they have no opportunity to work here. But, he added, there are 12 million undocumented Americans who have developed strong ties and "are not hurting the rest of us."