Today, the House Judiciary Committee finalized subcommittee assignments for the next two years and Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) requested and received assignment to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. The Congressman, who just started his eleventh term, said he was happy to get his first two subcommittee choices because it will allow him to work on two of the issues he has worked on since he was first elected to Congress in 1992 -- immigration reform and gun violence prevention.
Rep. Gutierrez requested assignment to the Judiciary Committee, temporarily giving up his third-ranking seniority on the Financial Services Committee for the 113th Congress, so that he could work on immigration reform and gun violence prevention directly, two issues expected to be at the top of the congressional and national agenda.
"I want to keep an eye on them and make sure the Subcommittee, the Committee and the Congress are making progress towards reform and not just talking about it," Gutierrez said.
"The only way I can push the immigration reform legislation forward is if I am in the room articulating the urgency that is being communicated to me by my constituents and Latino and immigrant voters across the country. Every single day we are deporting at least 250 parents with U.S. citizen children who wind up orphaned or uprooted. The clock is ticking and this Congress needs to act."
In 2005, Rep. Gutierrez introduced the first bicameral, bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill along with Representative (now Senator) Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and the late Ted Kennedy (D-MA). That bill proposed legalizing most of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. through a lengthy process, adopting mandatory electronic employment verification, increasing border security, and establishing a legal immigration system for workers and families that would allow people to go through our system efficiently, eliminating the need to go around it.
The Congressman also has a long track record on gun violence prevention dating to his earliest days in the U.S. Congress.
"The first bill I introduced in February 1993 was a bill to ban the domestic manufacture and sale of semi-automatic assault weapons, so I am hoping we can establish some common sense gun violence prevention measures in the Crime Subcommittee this year," Gutierrez said.
"We lost a classroom full of children in Connecticut which sparked national outrage that needs to be translated into action, but in Chicago, we sometimes lose a dozen or more young people every weekend. Too many bullets and too many guns are killing the next generation and we have got to make it stop."
On both the immigration and gun violence issues, Rep. Gutierrez sees outrage and outspokenness outside of the Congress as the only factors that will lead to action inside the Congress.
"Congress does not lead as much as it follows and it tends to follow the loudest and most persistent voices," the Congressman said. "We need to stop the mass deportation and the mass killing that that is devastating neighborhoods in my district, but the only way that is going to happen is if Members of Congress feel the heat from their constituents and are forced to actually solve problems. I have been here long enough to know that, left to their own devices, most Members of Congress would rather talk about problems than enact solutions, so the outside pressure is critical to actually accomplishing anything."
The subcommittee assignments were finalized today at a meeting of the full Judiciary Committee.