Carlos Gutierrez - republicans for immigration reform
Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is resigning his post as vice chairman at Citigroup to head a political action committee focused on supporting Republicans who advocate for immigration reform.

Gutierrez, who served in the George W. Bush Administration from 2005 to 2009, will now serve as the chairman for the recently formed Republicans for Immigration Reform super PAC.

The group will back Republicans who advance “common-sense” solutions to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. These solutions must be implemented through “comprehensive legislation that recognizes U.S. borders, Rule of Law, dignity of individuals and policies that address the needs of our economy in the 21st century,” according to the super PAC.

“America’s immigration system is badly broken, which undeniably impacts our economy, our health care system, our nation’s ability to attract the globe’s most talented individuals, our schools, our families and our country’s promise of the great American Dream,” Gutierrez, who immigrated from Cuba with his family at the age of six, said in a statement.

Gutierrez refers to the upcoming debate over immigration reform as “one of the most important public policy discussions America engages in this century.”

“Our country must get it right,” he stated. “In this spirit and with this understanding, I’ve decided to dedicate my full time and energy to Republicans for Immigration Reform and this critical legislative effort.”

Gutierrez contends that there are some Republican politicians who have held back from embracing their support for immigration reform because they fear they’ll face primary challenges from those in their party who lean far to the right on immigration.

Republicans for Immigration Reform: One of GOP’s new efforts to pass immigration reform

But in recent months, more Republicans have joined the fight to pass an immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Among them are Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, both of whom are part of the “Gang of Eight” senators who are planning to introduce a bipartisan immigration reform by the spring.

“There are 11 million people living here illegally,” McCain said last week at a town hall meeting packed with residents who were angry over the senator’s support for immigration reform. “We are not going to get enough buses to deport them.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told POLITICO on Friday that he supports an immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants but that individuals who are waiting in line should have “first preference.”

Earlier this month, several influential Republicans joined to form the Bipartisan Policy Center, a “high-level bipartisan” immigration task force aimed at advising Congress on immigration reform. It is co-chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell.

The group—also comprised of immigration experts, business leaders and labor leaders—plans to advise Congress on different aspects of immigration reform, including enforcement, legalization and worker visas.

“We are determined to be helpful to the current immigration debate around the country and have already begun talking to major constituencies,” said Cisneros in a statement. “While our recommendations will take time to develop, we intend to regularly weigh in on the ongoing debate as it develops on Capitol Hill.”

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