Gutiérrez has been part of a bipartisan working group drafting a comprehensive immigration bill in the House. The group of Republicans and Democrats has met for over four years, but still has not made its product public. And it was easy to sense that Gutiérrez is growing impatient.
"I was hopeful that we would be in a better place today,” he said to reporters. “The legislation that the Republicans have put forward thus far is partisan. There is no Democratic support for it.”
The congressman pointed out that diverse interests, such as business and labor and Senate Republicans and Democrats, have come to an agreement over core elements of reform. It should not be so hard for the House, he said.
“I am going to continue to work with Republicans,” Gutiérrez added. “I'm not here advocating for a Democratic solution. I have even criticized many components of the Senate bill. Why? To demonstrate to everybody that people gave, and gave a lot. Everybody's got to reach a place where we can do the work."
He says his end goal is to see reform passed, not to score political points using the issue in the next election.
“We're going to reach 2 million people in a couple of months. That's the legacy of the last five years: unprecedented deportations in the United States of America,” he said. “And so I have come here not to criticize Mr. Goodlatte, I wish he was here. I've criticized my own president."
To do that, Gutiérrez is mobilizing Latino and immigrant groups around the country to keep up the pressure, even though reform faces hazy prospects in the House.
"Our movement for comprehensive immigration reform needs to remain steady," Gutierrez said. "I think one of the problems is that Congress isn't hearing enough from the American people," he continued.
"We need people power."