WASHINGTON -- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) went after his Republican colleagues at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday for focusing on the "political theater" of whether the president is sidestepping immigration law rather than actually doing anything about the broken system.
He started his comments with a rather depressing greeting for three expert witnesses.
"Welcome to all of you for testifying here," Gutierrez said. "Unfortunately, everything you said will never translate into any legislative action."
"This is political theater," he continued. "That's why we're here. We're not here to really hear about your interpretations of the Constitution, as wise and as well-founded as they are. Let's skip over the obvious. The obvious [point of the hearing] is, 'We had some principles on immigration reform. We don't want to deal with them, so why don't we blame the president?' So what we have here is another do-nothing hearing in a do-nothing Congress to arrive at do-nothing legislation."
It was the second House Judiciary Committee hearing in three months to discuss whether the president is enforcing current immigration law. Over the same period, two other hearings were held on asylum fraud and abuse. But there have been no recent hearings on actual legislative efforts on the issue, even though House Republican leaders introduced their principles on immigration reform in January.
Gutierrez said he was fed up. He pointed out that in the time since the House leaders introduced their principles, thousands more people have been deported by "this do-nothing president who doesn't enforce the law."
"What are we doing here? We're doing nothing," he said. "We have a problem in America: 11 million [undocumented] people. They need help. And you know what really, really hurt me the most was that we raised the expectation. We said to those people there's hope."
Gutierrez has tried to walk a fine line between going after Republican lawmakers for inaction and applauding them for the steps they do take. He noted that he had praised the GOP leadership for putting out immigration reform principles, but also questioned why Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said a week after releasing those principles that it might be impossible to actually pass reform this year.
"When the speaker said this is hard, I said, 'So what's new?'" Gutierrez added. "That's what we were sent here to do: hard things."
Watch his remarks: