Democrats are a lock to retain Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s seat when the congressman ends his 25-year House tenure next year, but the party may have a bit more difficulty finding an equally influential and effective advocate for open borders.
Thanks to the egregiously gerrymandered 4th Congressional District of Illinois, Gutierrez has been safely ensconced in the House since 1993. Over nearly a quarter century in Congress, he has become one of the Democratic party’s most prominent voices for “immigration reform,” which in left-wing parlance means amnesty for illegal aliens and continued high levels of family-based immigration.
The 64-year-old Guitierrez has had a hand in nearly every Congressional proposal to increase immigration or extend protections to immigrants, legal and illegal, already in the country, according to a voting record compiled by NumbersUSA.
He has co-sponsored or backed numerous amnesty bills, including then-House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt’s 2002 proposal that would have given legal status to more than 6 million illegal aliens. That bill, which died in the House, would also have changed they way family reunification visas were capped, increasing chain migration by as many as 250,000 legal immigrants annually.
More recently, Gutierrez has been the Democrats’ point man on laying the groundwork for amnesty for illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. He voted in 2010 for the Dream Act, a bill pro-amnesty lawmakers have tried without success to pass for years that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of younger illegal immigrants. After the the Dream Act failed, Gutierrez urged then-President Obama to pursue an executive amnesty, which he did in 2012 with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Gutierrez stepped up his immigrantion advocacy after President Donald Trump took office, both before and after Trump decided in September to wind down the DACA program. He has been arrested three times protesting the administration’s immigration policies, and he called White House Chief of Staff and former Marine Corps General John Kelly a “disgrace to the uniform” for supporting Trump’s termination of DACA.
Gutierrez’s theatrics have earned him praise from liberal Democrats and immigration activists, on top of his cache in the Democratic Party as a heavyweight in the powerful Congressional Hispanic Caucus. His departure will leave big shoes to fill, mostly likely by a Chicago Democrat with little or no experience in national politics.
The leading candidates to run for Gutierrez’s seat are Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, according to the Chicago Tribune. Both politicians share many of Gutierrez’s positions on immigration, but they lack his stature in the Democratic Party.
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