Congressman Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., is visiting the Bay Area this week as part of a 20-city tour to call attention to the record number of deportations under the Obama administration.

Gutierrez’s visit to San Jose Tuesday night served to re-energize the local immigrant rights movement and mobilize the community to participate in this year’s May 1 immigrant rights march just days
away. In San Jose, the rallies start this Sunday on Story and King Roads at 4:00 p.m., ending at San Jose City Hall.

Nearly 300 people filled the room Tuesday night to hear the Congressman along with fellow panelists, Congressman Mike Honda, D-Calif., Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, and San Jose
Police Chief Chris Moore, who have all spoken out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

Even if legalizing 12 million immigrants isn’t possible right now, there are alternatives, reports Univision.

Gutierrez is calling on Obama to use his executive powers to stop deportations. The Obama administration deported 392,862 undocumented immigrants in 2010, a record number.

Gutierrez is also urging Obama to take other actions to resolve the issues of some parts of the community by keeping families together and legalizing the status of qualifying students under the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act). The DREAM Act, which was defeated in Congress last year, would have provided a path to citizenship for high school graduates who were brought here before they were 16, are of “good moral character,” and are entering
college or the military.

Some local groups are calling on Latinos to reconsider voting for Obama in 2012 if the administration doesn’t change its policies toward immigrants.

Local community activist Alberto Carrillo, who recently retired from the Santa Clara County Human Relations Office, where he worked for 25 years, told Univision that Obama “has a lot of discretion to, first, stop deportations and, second, the criminalization of many people.” Using the vote as a political tool, he said, Latinos have the power to demand change in the administration’s immigration policies.

“We have to hold the vote,” Carrillo said, “until he uses his executive powers to make changes that aren’t legislative.”

Congressman Gutierrez was in San Francisco Wednesday, and will speak in Napa and Oakland Thursday before heading to Los Angeles on the last day of the month to continue the tour.