Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on Sunday urged President Barack Obama to “demonstrate the political will and courage” to fight for comprehensive immigration reform, dismissing the president’s decision to send 1,200 additional National Guard troops to the border with Mexico as a gesture that “isn’t going to solve the problem.”
But Obama’s recent moves received no better reviews from the right: Ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), whose tough-on-immigration platform is central to his GOP primary challenge against Sen. John McCain, called Obama’s approach “cosmetic” and “woefully inadequate.”
Gutierrez and Hayworth, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” had a spirited debate over the proper approach to a porous border with Mexico and what to do about millions of immigrants already in the country illegally.
Hayworth said the extra Guard troops deployed along the border were essentially “working to change oil, to change tires,” rather than truly patrolling the border. He said, “Americans understand that comprehensive immigration reform is a poll-tested phrase that means amnesty.”
Hayworth added that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, caused him to re-evaluate his own positions on immigration policy. “What happened on 9/11 caused the scales to fall from my eyes,” he said.
Gutierrez said that 40 percent of illegal immigrants come into the United States legally, suggesting enhanced border controls are not the answer. The lawmaker called for tougher criminal penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, a Social Security card with a photo that must be presented in order to get a job, fines on people who want to legalize their status and other measures.
“My friend wants them to simply disappear, like this is the Harry Potter’ series,” Gutierrez said.