Latino Lawmakers Set to Depart Congress

Longtime comprehensive immigration reform advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a leader in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, plans to retire at the end of his current term, which comes in early 2019. Gutierrez’ departure from Congress, along with the retirement of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the most senior Hispanic female Republican in Congress, means 2 of the strongest Latino voices in Washington D.C. are set to fade in the next year.

Known as one of the most outspoken advocates of immigration reform, Gutierrez holds a long history of levying criticism to those opposed to his advocacy stance.

According to The Washington Post, “Gutierrez also was among the harshest liberal critics of former President Barack Obama, a fellow Chicagoan, whom he called the ‘deporter in chief’ for order immigration agencies to deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. He strongly disagreed with the decision by Obama– and his then-chief of staff (Rahm) Emanuel– to use the early years of his presidency to push for health-care reform instead of an immigration overhaul.”

More recently, the 63-year-old congressman has become an outspoken critic of President Trump. Earlier this year, Gutierrez was arrested while protesting the administration’s immigration enforcement policy outside Trump Tower in New York.

Gutierrez, who has Puerto Rican parents, currently leads a bipartisan push in sending tens of millions of dollars in the form of federal aid to the island.

“I love Puerto Rico,” Gutierrez said, according to a Washington Post story on the congressman’s retirement announcement. “She’s in a lot of pain. And there’s a lot of people that have turned their backs on her, and she needs to be rebuilt.” He goes on to explain the conflict of maintaining his seat in the 4th Congressional District as the need to rebuild the “home of my mom and dad, where my wife was born, a place I love so much.”

Among Gutierrez’ potential successors are Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa. These and other candidates for the congressional seat have just one week to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot.