Flashback: Gutierrez Praised Flake For Helping ‘More Hard-Working Immigrants Turn Red States Blue’

Kerry Picket | Reporter

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake became one of his conference’s key members to represent the party during Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) talks with the Democrats, but Flake’s previous 2007 immigration bill as a House member received praise from a pro-amnesty Democrat noting the bill would help turn red states blue.

At the time Flake introduced with Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez an immigration bill known as the STRIVE Act of 2007 (Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy).

In an April 2008 post to Progress Illinois, Rep. Gutiérrez wrote of the legislation:

During the 110th Congress, I introduced the only bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill with my colleague, Congressman Jeff Flake, from Arizona. Our bill would create a system that allows undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and work here legally and safely and humanely. It regulates future flows of workers, and it greatly enhances our border security.

He continued later in the piece:

Passing sensible immigration reform is good policy and good politics. So how do we win? We need more engaged progressives who are willing to stand up for what is right. We need labor unions to keep leading the charge. We need grassroots efforts to register immigrants to vote and to turn them out on Election Day. In the end, democracy is about numbers. The side that can count the highest wins. And the numbers are on our side.

Hard-working immigrants are turning red states blue. They are electing leaders from school boards to the U.S. Senate. They are standing up and marching and speaking with one voice. Immigrants will remember on Election Day who heard them, respected them, and fought for them. If progressives are the ones listening and fighting, then not only will immigrants benefit, so will all of America.

Ultimately, the 2007 immigration bill co-authored by Flake and Gutiérrez did not pass Congress, but Flake finds himself again in the middle of another immigration debate. Flake, now in the upper chamber, attempted another shot at a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 with lawmakers who became known as the “gang of eight,” but that legislation failed as well.

More recently, Flake supported the initial DACA proposal spearheaded by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, which created a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

However, after the White House rejected the proposal and insisted that the funding of the government be separate from any DACA negotiations, Democrats dug their heels in and refused to vote for any temporary funding measure Friday night to keep the government open.

Rep. Gutiérrez, however, appeared to shift his position on President Trump’s demand for a southern border wall telling reporters Saturday he would be willing to give into a wall on the border if the president would ensure legal protection for “Dreamers.”

“I’ll take a bucket, take bricks, and start building it myself,” Gutiérrez said. He added, “We will dirty our hands in order for the Dreamers to have a clean future in America.”

Sen. Flake, according to Roll Call, wants to bring DACA legislation to the floor as quickly as possible now since the government shut down late Friday night. Flake told Roll Call that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to bring the legislation to the floor with or without the support of President Trump.

“The way to find out what the president wants on DACA is to pass a bill, to bring a bill to the floor. And that is what the majority leader has now agreed to do,” Flake said. “Now whether that will be enough to bring more Democrats over by tomorrow, I don’t know.”

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