Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) participated in a community forum in Chicago hosted by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) at the Instituto del Progreso Latino, in the Congressman's district. The forum brought together leaders from a cross section of Chicago-area constituencies to update them and discuss progress being made in the House and Senate towards comprehensive immigration reform. The Congressman and the Senator are deeply involved in on-going bipartisan discussions aimed at securing passage of a bill, which President Obama and Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) have each identified as their number one legislative priority.
"Right now, the momentum gives me a great sense of optimism," Rep. Gutierrez said. "Senator Durbin and I and a few other Democrats have been at the negotiating table for a long time and at times, we felt a little lonely," Rep. Gutierrez joked. "Now people in both parties are actually fighting to be at the negotiating table and I think we will get legislation passed and signed by the President this year."
Both Senator Durbin and Congressman Gutierrez have been fighting for immigration reform for decades and leading the efforts for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Participants in the Chicago community forum, who ranged from pro-immigrant advocates and religious leaders to business and labor leaders, asked the lawmakers about policy specifics being discussed in various plans under consideration in Washington.
"I am less interested in the policy specifics right this moment than the fact that things are moving forward steadily and sensibly," Rep. Gutierrez said. "Both parties are putting ideas on the table, but there is broad agreement that legalization needs to be part of any reform and most agree that the ultimate outcome of legalization is citizenship for those who choose to make the U.S. their permanent home."
Rep. Gutierrez participated in a packed community forum in Denver, Colorado on Saturday hosted by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and attended by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and community leaders, advocates, business owners, religious leaders and immigrants themselves. The event featured the stories of immigrants who would be most directly impacted by immigration reform.
"What everyone is asking me is how do we deal with the massive increase in deportations that are wreaking havoc on Latino communities," Gutierrez said of his meetings in both Denver and Chicago. "We deport 1,000 people per day and hundreds of them are the parents of U.S. citizens, leaving broken families, orphaned children and neighborhoods under siege. We cannot afford to wait for another year or for another Congress."
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee, of which Rep. Gutierrez is a member, will hold its first hearing on immigration in Washington.