Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez defended his characterization of President Barack Obama as “deporter in chief” during a conference call with immigration activists on Friday.
The Illinois Democrat noted, however, that even though he called the president out for not using executive orders to stop deportations, he still supports him.
“I called the president deporter in chief,” he told reporters on the call organized by America’s Voice. “That is not contradictory with the president being the champion in chief. Look, I want the president to be bill-signer in chief.”
Gutiérrez, a vocal advocate for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and a one-time lead negotiator in efforts to advance bipartisan legislation, delivered a floor speech earlier this week in which he slammed Obama for allowing more deportations during his administration than during the tenures of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
At the House Democratic Caucus retreat in Cambridge, Md., last month, Obama told lawmakers in a closed-door question-and-answer session that there are limits to his executive authority when it comes to stopping deportations.
“When I see politicians hiding behind excuses, I feel compelled to call them out on it,” Gutiérrez said. “[It's] dishonest for President Obama to say his hands are tied and there’s nothing more he can do.”
Obama wasn’t the only public official Gutiérrez took to task on Friday.
“Just because I’m saying to the president there is more he can do on deportation doesn’t mean that the speaker … or anyone else is off the hook,” he said.
“Republicans are sitting on their hands,” continued Gutiérrez, naming Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, and the other lawmakers of the House Republican Conference who are still refusing to schedule floor consideration for any immigration overhaul bill. “We see it every day.”