All summer long, Rep. Luis Gutierrez has been drawing sizable and enthusiastic crowds at immigration rallies nationwide. From California to Nevada to Florida, the congressman from Chicago is received like a rock star: People cheer when he enters the room; they pump their fists and stomp their feet. And when he’s finished speaking, they press forward to get close to him, tugging at his shirt and refusing to leave until he agrees to have his photo taken with them.
The contentious immigration reform debate in Washington has produced a steady stream of familiar faces — Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) or President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) — making familiar arguments. But among a huge segment of Latinos who get their news from Spanish-language media, Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is the face, the voice and the political force behind immigration reform, and has been for years.
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