Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), a Chicago-born Puerto Rican with a large Puerto Rican constituency, commented today on the Puerto Rico GOP primary on Sunday in an article published today on the Huffington Post. In the article, Rep. Gutierrez says watching the remaining GOP candidates reach out to Latino voters in Puerto Rico "is so forced and ridiculous that it is painful to watch." He cites Sen. Santorum's call for English to be the official language of Puerto Rico and Gov. Romney going out of his way to express his opposition to Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor's appointment to the Supreme Court.
While Rep. Gutierrez is best known for his advocacy on the immigration issue, he has always been an active advocate for the Puerto Rican people and highly critical of the current Governor, a Tea Party Republican who "has unsuccessfully test marketed Republican campaign themes in Puerto Rico." The Congressman writes: "The regime in Puerto Rico has conducted mass firings of public employees, made higher education less accessible to young people, and chooses big construction and petroleum interests over the environment at every opportunity."
On immigration, Rep. Gutierrez points out that Puerto Ricans, despite nearly 100 years of birthright citizenship, are not immune to "the racism and divisiveness" of the heated immigration debate. He writes:
Both GOP candidates embrace policies designed to drive Latinos out of states like Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina by legalizing the use of appearance as a criteria for stopping or detaining someone to inquire into their immigration status. Ask a Puerto Rican in Arizona or the Deep South if some of the scrutiny has rubbed off on them, despite nearly 100 years of birthright citizenship. Just yesterday, the Southern Mississippi band led chants of "Where's your green card" when outstanding Kansas State point guard Ángel Rodríguez -- a Puerto Rican -- was at the free throw line in an NCAA tournament game. The racism and divisiveness generated by the nation's heated immigration debate spills over to Puerto Ricans, let me assure you.