"We have the right to rise in this country. That no matter what the condition of your birth, here, you can make yourself what you want to be," Rep. Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin.
Ryan, last year's Republican vice presidential candidate, joined Gutierrez at a Chicago City Club luncheon Monday to make a statement about bi-partisan support for immigration reform.
"Paul Ryan and I are working together because of a value that we share in making America safer and making sure our immigrants are treated well and I want to thank him again for taking this trip to come down here," Rep. Gutierrez said.
Before the luncheon, a mariachi band at the Erie Neighborhood House greeted the Wisconsin conservative and the progressive Chicago Democrat. Both support a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. In 2005, Ryan was among the first to buck his own party's platform to join longtime reform advocate Gutierrez.
"This is something we need to do for a number of reasons," State Senator Christine Radogno, (R) Senate Minority Leader, said.
Republicans--who put part of the blame for many defeats last November on their poor showings among Latino voters-- now include big-time supporters of immigration reform.
"Sometimes it does take elections for people to wake up. Actually, frankly it concerns me about those that don't wake up after an election," Rep. Tom Cross, House Minority Leader, said.
Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul--noting that both suspects in the Boston marathon bombing were legal immigrants--called on senate leaders to reconsider immigration reform. Gutierrez and Ryan said Boston is a case in point that reform is long overdue.
"We do not know how to even track people who overstay their visas. We need a modern immigration system that not only helps us protect our border but protects national security in all of its aspects," Ryan said.