Rep. Gutierrez: Obama 'Playing it Safe' on Immigration

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., reacts to President Obama's decision to delay executive action on immigration.
5:20 | 09/07/14

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Transcript for Rep. Gutierrez: Obama 'Playing it Safe' on Immigration
And we're back now with our closer look at president Obama's big decision this weekend to put off any executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections. Bowing to pressure from democrats worried it would cost them the senate, Obama's delay is drawing fire from several fronts. More from Jim Avila. Reporter: Barack Obama's presidency has been marked with a love/hate relationship with hispanic voters. Courting the Latino vote with promise after promise to reform immigration. I see the process working this year. So let's get immigration reform done this year. If congress won't do their job, at least we can do ours. Reporter: That June rose garden promise of action this summer reaffirmed just Friday. I'll be making an announcement soon. Reporter: Within hours, soon became not until after the midterm election. Inviting another embarrassing moment for president Obama, with the growing Latino constituency repeatedly frustrated by delays. A promise is a promise. With all due respect, you didn't keep that promise. Reporter: Already, Latino groups are claiming betrayal. It's outrage and frustrated and disappointed at another delay by the president. Reporter: So what happened? A humanitarian crisis at the border, with thousands of central American children flooding into the U.S., invigorating gop calls for more border security. We found in Guatemala just last month, makeshift rafts filled with immigrants crossing illegally into Mexico, heading to the U.S. I boarded one with no papers. No ids checked. It cost me $5 to bring three people over here from Guatemala to Mexico. All of it giving republicans ammunition to charge the president cannot be trusted to enforce the law. You wonder why people are cynical and demoralized when politicians say, I want to do something that is utterly lawless, but I'm going to wait until after an election. Reporter: The white house in the end deciding acting alone on immigration would incite republican turnout if tn the midterms. Hoping that the Latino population will warm once again when the president finally acts. We're joined by congressman Luis Gutierrez. Who has been pushing very hard for the president to take this executive action. Congressman, thank you for joining us. You heard Jim Avila saying the white house is calculating that all will be well with the Latino community if he acts after November. Are they right? Well, first of all, it's clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the white house. And among democratic circles. Playing it safe means walking away from our values and our principles. They've looked at polling in four or five states where there are not large Latino constituencies. And said that's the way forward. Without thinking of the impact that that might have in other states, like Illinois, Colorado. You know, George, playing it safe might win an election. Sometimes you lose an election also. It almost never leads to fairness, justice, and to good public policy you can be proud of. Latinos have supported this president. Let's look at the Latino vote in the Latino community. 2008, critical to the president's election. 2010, many say we kept the senate in democratic hands. Because of Latino voting. My question is, will they forgive the president? North Carolina principally because of Latino votes. They were the margin of victory. In 2012, it was that way again. If the president acts in November, are they going to forgive the president and go forward? Here's what I'm going to do. I have called the president. Called the white house. I expect that we'll be meeting this week so that we can continue. I think that part of this is that we're in a good place in terms of public policy. All right. This is not about public policy and a difference, I believe, between the immigrant community and the white house. I want to continue to work on that. I think we're in a good place with secretary Johnson. I think he's fighting every day to keep us safe both here, externally, from threats externally and internally. In the United States. I think he's man of compassion. I'm going back to the drawing board. I'm going to continue to work with this administration. I'm not going to give up. We have good public policy. Let's not forget that there are 11 million people who work in this country, raise families, work, and live in this country. Most of them have been here ten years. Of the undocumented, without Visas. They work and raise families in this country. They should be given a chance to come out of the shadows. What does that mean? Coming out of the shadows? Not being hunted down. That means not being treated like a fugitive. President Barack Obama, in the last five years, has deported more people than any other president in the history of the United States. I think that's the reality. While we wait until November, because that's the president's decision, there will be another 60,000 people deported. There is pain and suffering in the community. There is a lot of anguish and anger. Okay, congressman Gutierrez, thank you for your time. When we come back,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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