Rep. Luis Gutierrez Says U.S. Drug Addiction Is Fueling Immigration Crisis

By McCarton Ackerman 07/10/14

The Illinois congressman was one of the few people to put the blame for the refugee crisis squarely on the failed drug war.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez.jpg
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Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is making headlines for his recent comments claiming that America’s drug habits are fueling both an immigration crisis and violent cartels throughout Central America.

Gutierrez is trying to nudge President Barack Obama to “keep families together” and ease up on deportations. President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to address the issue of children who are fleeing Central America and crossing the U.S. border. Gutierrez said many of these children are left with no choice but to flee due to the violence and poverty in their home countries, but blamed American drug users for promoting the problems south of the border and declared that Congress has an obligation to not send them back to dangerous spots.

"How do the drug cartels maintain their power? With American guns bought with American dollars because of American consumption of the drugs," he said. "The drugs don't stay in Honduras. They don't stay in Mexico. They come straight to the streets of the United States of America. And so, I think we have a great responsibility in the debilitating of those countries."

Many Republicans are calling for the Obama administration to simply deport the latest round of new arrivals. White House spokesman Josh Earnest has already acknowledged that “most of these kids…will not have a legal basis for remaining in this country and will be returned,” only further adding to the total number of deportees under Obama’s reign. Carlos Rosa of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights said that Obama has already deported two million people since taking office, more than any other president in U.S. history.

Gutierrez believes that the solution doesn’t lie with deporting desperate children, but rather addressing and fixing the nation’s broken immigration system. "Shame on people who want to exploit children," Gutierrez said. "You want to change the law? I'm here. I'm ready. Let's sit down at a table and let's get this done together."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.