Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) was one of President Obama's strongest supporters within the Latino community, but now he is a solid "no" vote in the health care debate because, he says, the president has turned his back on his pledge to bring illegal immigrants "out of the shadows" with comprehensive immigration reform and universal health care.
"For Latinos in this country -- for anyone who cares about fair, comprehensive and humane immigration reform-- Barack Obama has delivered 'change.' It's been a change for the worse," Gutierrez wrote in an op-ed today.
After meeting with the president and the rest of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week to discuss health care reform, "I no longer find myself able to confidently say 'yes' when President Obama asks me for his support," Gutierrez wrote.
Gutierrez was one of the Democrats the president has tried toto support the Democratic health care overhaul. The Illinois Democrat voted "yes" for the House health care bill passed last year, but he opposes the Senate bill because it would prohibit illegal immigrants from buying health insurance with their own money in the new federal exchanges that would be created in the plan. Gutierrez .
As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama pledged to push for universal health care, Gutierrez wrote. "Now, the President defines 'universal' as everyone but immigrants, who are denied even the opportunity to pay into the system," he says.
Gutierrez also blasts the president for increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants by 13 percent from George Bush's last year in office.
"His administration's action on comprehensive immigration reform can fairly be summarized with one word: nothing," Gutierrez wrote.
Latinos tout their increasing influence in American politics, and immigration rights advocates are marching in Washington on Sunday to push for immigration reform.