As expected, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) focused his remarks squarely on the issue of immigration. Gutierrez was on the first speakers to address the convention on Wednesday. His remarks are below.
“Tonight I want to celebrate a fundamental reason we are Democrats. We believe that America is never greater than when we protect the rights we have won, and strive to make real the call of our founders to create a more perfect union. We are never more American than when we demand that all people are treated with dignity and respect. We are never more patriotic than when we see a group of people being cast aside and say: “Stop.” In America, we do not tolerate anyone being treated unfairly. We are truly American when we live up to our original promise of liberty and celebrate those quintessentially American words, “all men are created equal.”
My friends, on June 15th, President Obama made those words real. That day, he took steps to lift the shadow of deportation from deserving young people. People brought here as children. We call them the “dreamers,” because they are young people who want their shot at the American dream. They are students and volunteers and leaders. Many want to join the armed forces. They are true Americans. They are American in every way—except on paper.
President Obama stood up for people like my friend Jessica from Chicago. Jessica had a 3.8 GPA in high school. She has a scholarship to the great University of North Carolina. But because she didn’t come to America until she was seven years old, her future was in doubt. Until Barack Obama took bold action to stand up for Jessica and immigrants like her.
Now, America faces a stark choice. The future of a generation will be decided in this election. We cannot deny them. President Obama is protecting immigrants. Mitt Romney wants undocumented immigrants to “self deport.” This election will determine whether high school valedictorians, football team captains and student council presidents will be treated with respect—or treated like suspects. Whether they reach their dreams, or whether Mitt Romney turns their dreams into nightmares.
This belief separates our parties. Democrats have always been the party of expanding the embrace of our democracy and humanity. It’s not just dreamers. Democrats value all immigrants. Republicans blame undocumented immigrants for many of our problems. Democrats will fight for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps America secure while keeping immigrant families united. Immigration reform stops the finger-pointing and allows immigrants to make America stronger.
Here’s what immigration reform means for Hector Nunez. Hector is a U.S. Citizen and a soldier, a “combat engineer” in the U.S. Army. He locates and eliminates roadside bombs. Hector risks his life so that we can be safe. Hector and his wife, Rosa, have a citizen son, Jason. Rosa is an immigrant. To finalize her citizenship, Rosa was told to return to Mexico. But when the family went, Rosa was told she couldn’t come back. She was told to stay, but our government told Hector he could deploy to Afghanistan to risk his life to defend America. That’s not right.
Our broken immigration system creates stories like this every day. Good people, torn apart, kept from working, paying taxes, serving in the armed forces—keeping us all safe. In any language the choice is clear. “Mis amigos, esta es una elección crucial para nuestra comunidad. Esta eleccion es crucial por eso votare por Barack Obama!”
The obstruction of the Republican Party and Mitt Romney is not new. Every time we’ve expanded civil rights in America, someone tried to stop us. From marriage equality to voting rights, someone will fight against expanding the rights enjoyed by some Americans to all Americans. There is always someone who says, “These rights, these liberties, and this equality, it’s just for me —it’s not for you. This election, please join me in standing by Barack Obama. Help our president show that in America, freedom and equality are for all of us.”