Candidate Full Name: Luis V. Gutierrez
Office: U.S. Representative (IL-04)
Email Address: RepLuisGutierrez@gmail.com
Web Site: LuisGutierrezforCongress.com
Campaign Name: Gutierrez for Congress
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
It is an honor for me to serve the residents in Illinois' 4th congressional district in Chicago, and I am gratified that voters have chosen me to represent them since 1992. I am a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee, the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Dean of the Illinois Delegation to the House of Representatives.
In 2013 I took a leave of absence from the House Financial Services Committee, where I was the third ranking Democrat, to take a far less senior position on the Judiciary Committee. I did this so that I could work directly on two signature issues that have defined my career: gun violence prevention and comprehensive immigration reform. This gives me a seat at the table as legislation on guns and immigration are debated in Congress.
Public service has been a great way for me to make a difference in our community and city, and allowed me to fight for the priorities of my constituents on the national stage. I am proud to have helped more than 50,000 people apply for naturalization and take the oath of U.S. citizenship. I am proud to have fought hard for the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has provided nearly 700,000 deserving young people known as DREAMers a work permit and protection from deportation. I also fought for the DAPA announcement, or deferred action for parents, and look forward to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the program this summer so that an estimated 5 million immigrants can work legally and provide for their families. I have also worked hard to expand veteran's benefits, to defend gay marriage and a woman's right to choose, to fight for workers who deserve a livable wage and decent benefits, and to help protect families and the unemployed from our country's economic downturn and the excesses of Wall Street.
I was born and raised in Chicago, after my parents migrated here from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s. I have been happily married for four decades and am a proud father of two successful young women and a fun loving and curious grandson. While my jobs have included teacher, social worker and cab driver, I have spent most of my life in public service, including working for Mayor Harold Washington, as Alderman of the 26th ward and as a U.S. Congressman.
2. With this being a presidential election year, who would you like to be elected President and why?
I support Hillary Rodham Clinton for President. Hands down she is the toughest, most knowledgeable and most experienced candidate-Democrat or Republican-running for President. Her ability to represent the United States on the world stage has been tried and tested and I am confident in her leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges around the globe, such as terrorist threats, climate change, defending Israel and ensuring Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. As a father of two daughters, I deeply appreciate Secretary Clinton's life-long commitment to equality and her tireless work defending women's health and the constitutional right to abortion, fighting for equal pay for equal work, and working to end violence against women. She is also the most committed candidate in word and deed to other priorities of my constituents, including comprehensive immigration reform and relief from deportations for DREAMers and families, gay marriage and an end to LGBTQ discrimination in all its forms and gun control, including strengthening background checks and keeping guns out of the wrong hands. Understandably, this has given her far greater appeal to Americans of diverse backgrounds from all walks of life, something that is important to me, given the diversity of those who live in my district. I look forward to working hard to help elect Hillary Clinton as our next-and first woman-President.
3. The fight against ISIS is on everyone's mind, especially after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. What would your plan be in the fight against ISIS and for the national security of the U.S?
ISIS is like no terrorist threat we have ever confronted before because, instead of massive attacks like 9-11, they use more rudimentary means to carry out their violence and instill fear and terror, such as suicide bombs and mass shootings. Our intelligence agencies and the U.S. military with our international coalition partners should hunt down terrorists wherever they are and provide the training and support that Iraqi and Syria forces need to fight and defeat ISIL on the ground. We also need as our number one diplomatic priority to negotiate a transition in Syria that removes Bashar al-Asad from power and replaces him with a government that represents all Syrians. On the domestic front, we need to prevent suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons, reinstitute the assault weapons ban, shut down the ability of ISIS to conduct on-line recruitment in the U.S. and work closely with the Muslim-American community to fight against radicalization and Islamophobia, both of which create opportunities for ISIS' reach in the United States. Finally, I believe we need to put the best minds together in the public and private sectors to identify the most effective, technologically feasible solutions to track terrorists' encrypted communications without resorting to mass surveillance that most Americans reject.
4. Do you support a federal assault weapons ban? Why or why not? What other federal gun control measures would you support?
I absolutely support a federal assault weapons ban. In fact, the very first bill I introduced was banning assault weapons-a policy and law we passed in Congress that was in place for a decade until it expired in 2004. Assault weapons, or semi-automatic firearms with large capacity magazines, have one purpose and that is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Their function in society is dispensable and despicable and they should be outlawed again. I also believe that Congress needs to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to purchase a firearm to first pass a background check. Currently only 60 percent of gun purchases are conducted with a background check. And despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans support such checks, the powerful gun lobby continues to exert its influence over many members of Congress to prevent action on this straightforward and lifesaving measure. In addition to background checks, I also support keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, the severely mentally ill and terrorists. In fact was one of the first to sign onto the Discharge Petition in Congress to Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, a commonsense proposal that would close the loophole that currently allows individuals on the FBI's Terrorist Watchlist to buy guns. I think It is ridiculous that we would prevent a dangerous individual from boarding a plane, but allow them to purchase weapons in the U.S. In the end and given the daily loss of life to gun violence, including horrific mass shootings, inaction on gun control is a shameful stain on the U.S. Congress.
5. What are your thoughts on what has been done so far with immigration reform?
I have worked harder than anyone in Congress for an immigration policy that would benefit my constituents and provide Americans with the immigration system they deserve. I am the first Democrat in the House to author and introduce a comprehensive immigration (CIR) reform bill (in 2004 with the late Senator Ted Kennedy) and the first House democratic author of bipartisan, bicameral CIR in 2005 with Congressmen Kolbe and Flake and Senators McCain and Kennedy. I continue to be a steadfast advocate for CIR as the best solution to our broken immigration system because it includes a fair path to citizenship for the undocumented, needed reforms of family- and employment based immigration, and smarter border security that would ensure that family members and workers come with visas and not smugglers. The most recent iteration of CIR passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis in June 2013, but was blocked by House Republicans who fear taking on their most conservative members on this issue. As shown in the Frontline feature film "Immigration Battle" released in October 2015, no one worked harder than me to craft a solution that the Republican majority in Congress could support and I am deeply disappointed that Republicans in the House walked away. They left the President no other choice than to use his executive powers to stop needless and tragic deportation and provide relief to our community through the DACA and DAPA programs. My expectation is that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of these programs and that an estimated five million people will be able to apply for a work permit and protection from deportation later this year.