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Gutierrez praises Republicans on immigration reform

On Monday, the Republican National Committee was telling the GOP to get on board with an immigration law overhaul. On Tuesday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) suggested that Republicans are already there.

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Gutierrez predicted immigration changes would move forward this spring, in part because of Republican House members, including Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), and in particular Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). He went on to praise Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for his comments Tuesday morning on legalizing the status of illegal immigrants and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his commitment to the issue.

Gutierrez said he would not accept a plan without a path to citizenship, although it might be "not an easy path or a uniform path," according to his prepared remarks.

Leading Republicans, he said, "understand that we should not legislate a permanent, non-citizen underclass." He noted that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast earlier this month that he was open to legislation that allowed undocumented immigrants the chance to gain citizenship.

"I think there is an overlap between the Republican position and the Democratic position that we do not prohibit citizenship," Gutierrez said. "I would like a clean, clear, quick path to citizenship and I think a lot of people on my side would, but we are working to find bipartisan agreement and I don't get to write the bill all by myself."

Paul on Tuesday endorsed immigration changes that grant legal status to undocumented immigrants. Those immigrants could then apply for citizenship from within the country.

Gutierrez said that before the election, Ryan agreed to work on immigration reform should he become vice president. After the election, he said, Ryan approached him and reaffirmed his commitment to the issue. The two lawmakers will speak about the issue at the City Club of Chicago on April 22.

According to Talking Points Memo, Gutierrez also credited Rubio with pressuring the Obama administration into an executive order halting deportations for some undocumented immigrants.

“The White House said ‘We think that’s a bad idea, this Rubio proposal,’” Gutierrez told the audience. “I said you may have a Rubio problem, I have a deportation problem.”

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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