Legislators call for immigration reform now

Fiery Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez stood before a crowd of some 100 North Bay Latino leaders at Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood Saturday afternoon, and told them he would be leaving them shortly to go to the airport to catch a redeye flight back to Chicago.

“At 5 a.m., I’m going to get to my house, and my wife and my daughter and my granddaughter know I’m coming home. Doesn’t it break your heart that there are millions of people who don’t know their fathers are coming home?”

Gutierrez, an 11-term Chicago Democrat who has been compared to Martin Luther King, Jr. for his willingness to perform acts of civil disobedience in support of immigration reform, was in the Sonoma Valley with Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to stir up support for House passage of the stalled immigration reform bill that the U.S. Senate passed last year. The millions Gutierrez was referencing, who might not see their fathers or husbands in the morning, are the undocumented Latinos with U.S.-born children who have been deported in record numbers by the Obama Administration, often leaving broken families behind.

Both Gutierrez and Thompson, who have collaborated in sponsoring immigration reform legislation, voiced confidence that the U.S. Congress is closer to passage of an immigration reform bill than any time since 1986.

“We need to get immigration reform done because it’s the right thing to do,” said Thompson, “because it saves money, it saves jobs, it grows the economy. The labor unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agree on this. Usually they don’t agree on what time it is.”

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