- Democratic Member of Congress
- Member of the Progressive Caucus
- Proposed legislation granting amnesty and increased benefits to illegal immigrants
- Pressured President Clinton to free convicted FALN terrorists whose bombs had killed six people
Last Thursday, Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois sparked controversy with his reaction to the emotional testimony of Ray Tranchant, a Virginia man who told a House joint panel that his teenage daughter had been killed in 2007 by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk and who had a previous criminal record but was never deported. As Tranchant lauded the efforts of Virginia law-enforcement to work with federal immigration authorities, he used the term “banditos” to describe individuals listed on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s database of illegal aliens with criminal histories. In response, Gutierrez said:
“Mr. Tranchant, can I share with you as the father of two daughters, I thank you for bringing your testimony here, but I suggest to you that if we refer to people as banditos, as you referred to them in your testimony, it does not help to solve the problem….
“What I have seen, unfortunately, is the will to target and to victimize and to scapegoat a community of people. I have seen that readily here. It makes for great political points but it doesn’t solve the problem and would not have saved your daughter’s life.”
Asserting that anti-immigrant hatred is a longstanding American tradition, Gutierrez said: “The Irish [were once perceived as] the dirty, filthy element that was coming here to undermine America. Well, it gave us a President Kennedy.”
Gutierrez recently embarked on a five-week, 16-city tour aimed at “document[ing] the harm” caused by the lack of “comprehensive immigration reform.” He claims to be particularly concerned about families “being torn apart by a broken immigration system.”
Meanwhile Gutierrez's critics, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform, say he is “promoting amnesty for millions of illegal aliens and the dismantling of immigration law enforcement programs.”
Born in Chicago in December 1953 to parents of Puerto Rican ancestry, Luis Gutierrez is a Democratic Member of Congress who represents the Fourth District of Illinois.
After graduating from Northeastern Illinois University in 1975, Gutierrez spent two years as a schoolteacher in Puerto Rico before returning to Chicago.
From 1984 to 1986, Gutierrez served as an advisor to Chicago mayor Harold Washington. In 1986 he was elected alderman in a new, gerrymandered, Hispanic-majority voting district.
In 1992 Gutierrez won a seat in the U.S. Congress, representing the newly formed, mostly Hispanic (75 percent) Fourth District; he has been re-elected to that seat every two years since then. Gerrymandered from neighborhoods and suburbs west of downtown Chicago, the Fourth District is, according to political analyst Michael Barone, “one of the most bizarrely shaped congressional districts in the country.” It was designed by Democrats not only to guarantee the area's rapidly growing Latino population a Latino Representative in Congress, but also to concentrate so many Latinos into a single district that they would pose little threat of unseating any black Democrat in the vicinity.
Gutierrez is a member of both the Progressive Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus in the House of Representatives. The leftwing Americans for Democratic Action rates his voting record as being 95 percent on the left side of legislation.
During his congressional career, Gutierrez has voted:
- against the development of a national missile defense system;
- in favor of the post-9/11 anti-terrorism measure known as the Patriot Act;
- against a bill permitting the government to combat potential terrorist threats by monitoring foreign electronic communications which are routed through the United States;
- against an October 2002 joint resolution authorizing U.S. military action in Iraq;
- against the establishment of military commissions to try enemy combatants captured in the war on terror;
- in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq immediately and by a preordained date;
- against President Bush’s 2007 decision to deploy some 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers in an effort to quell the violent insurgents in Iraq;
- in favor of a proposal to expedite the transfer of all prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention center;
- against requiring hospitals to report (to the federal government) illegal aliens who receive emergency medical treatment;
- against the Real ID Act, which proposed to set minimal security requirements for state driver licenses and identification cards;
- against separate proposals calling for the construction of some 700 miles of fencing to prevent illegal immigration along America's southern border;
- against a proposal to grant state and local officials the authority to investigate, identify, and arrest illegal immigrants;
- against major tax cut proposals in September 1998, February 2000, March 2000, July 2000, May 2001, May 2003, October 2004, and May 2006;
- against separate welfare reform bills designed to move people off the welfare rolls and into paying jobs;
- in favor of prohibiting oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR);
- against a proposal to fund offshore oil exploration along the Outer Continental Shelf.
Gutierrez proposed legislation granting amnesty and legal status by 2007 to all illegal immigrants who had entered the United States prior to February 7, 2001. He also has worked to restore Food Stamp and other welfare benefits to illegal aliens.
In 1999 Gutierrez worked with fellow Puerto Rico-connected lawmakers and Progressive Caucus members Nydia Velazquez and Jose Serrano to pressure President Bill Clinton(through Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder) to free 16 convicted FALN terrorists. Gutierrez pressed Clinton to pardon even those FALN members who refused to express remorse for their terrorist acts.