President Barack may be able to legalize as many as 5 million immigrants by executive action, Rep. Luis Gutierrez told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Friday.
The Illinois Democrat said he was meeting with Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson later in the day "to negotiate additional terms and avenues the president can use" to make that happen with executive action.
"I think we can get 3 or 4, maybe even 5 million people" legalized as a result, he said.
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Gutierrez also said it's unlikely that children in Central America who want to come to the United States will be able to obtain refugee status.
A plan under consideration by the administration would screen children and young adults in Honduras
to see if they would qualify for refugee status on humanitarian grounds, allowing them to enter the United States.
"There is really very little in our law . . . unless we declare them refugees, and I don't see that happening. [It] doesn't mean I don't think it should happen. It's just I don't see that happening," Gutierrez said.
A way to stem the surge of people illegally crossing the southern U.S. border "to seek out the American dream" would be to aid the impoverished Central American countries from which they are fleeing, Gutierrez said.
"I think we should have a program that allows Central America to thrive, and that we invest in those countries," he said. "Severe violence and severe poverty are going to bring people to America to seek refuge here. And, the way you stop that from happening is creating conditions there."
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