During his eight terms in the U.S. House, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez has worked to establish himself as an effective legislator and energetic spokesman on behalf of his constituents in Illinois' Fourth District. At the same time, Gutierrez' tireless leadership championing the causes of the Latino and immigrant communities has led to greater responsibilities within the U.S. Congress and has earned him widespread acclaim throughout the country.
As the first Latino to be elected to Congress from the Midwest, Gutierrez sought opportunities to address long-standing needs facing the immigrant community in his diverse Congressional district, which is home to Chicago's large and established communities of immigrants from Eastern Europe as well Latin America. During his first term in office in 1992, he led the fight to increase citizenship education and English language proficiency programs for newly-arrived immigrants. In Chicago, he has held citizenship workshops offering comprehensive assistance to prospective citizens. His workshops have helped more than 40,000 people take the first steps toward citizenship.
On the national level, there has not been an elected official more committed or more passionate about protecting and advocating for our nation's immigrant community than Rep. Gutierrez.
From helping individuals take the first step toward citizenship, to beating back punitive anti-immigrant provisions on the House floor, to crafting historic, bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation, Rep. Gutierrez' efforts on the issue of immigration are in a class all their own.
Because of the Congressman's outstanding work on immigration issues, he was appointed Chair of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force, where he is the party's leading strategist and spokesperson on immigration issues; and as the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force. In addition, Gutierrez was named to the Judiciary Committee in the 110th Congress where he has remained, serving on the Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law Subcommittee.
Gutierrez also chairs the powerful Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. The subcommittee oversees all financial regulators, which include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration.
As a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Gutierrez has spearheaded efforts to bring more minorities into the banking system. He also has played a prominent role in cracking down on predatory lenders, including flagrant abuses in payday lending to the military, and he is leading efforts to make the costs of remittance services more transparent and to increase competition in the marketplace. An amendment offered by Congressman Gutierrez in the Financial Services Committee to cap the interest on payday loans made to military families and provide them with other basic protections against abusive lenders, was signed into law in 2006. Mr. Gutierrez is now seeking to extend those same protections to all Americans, not just the military and their families.
As a former member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Gutierrez increased funding for research for veterans, including tens of millions of dollars for prosthetics programs, and is a strong advocate for ensuring that Illinois veterans receive ample health benefits for their service; and he created a new program to help women veterans receive treatment for sexual abuse that occurred while they were in the military.
Mass transit issues have also played a prominent role in Gutierrez' agenda. He secured federal authorization for a $315 million project to reconstruct the aging Douglas Branch of the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line, the "L" route which runs through the southwest side and suburbs in his district. He also introduced legislation offering tax credits to commuters who use public transit on a full-time basis. Gutierrez joined community and business leaders to implement creative ridership incentive programs and to press for the restoration of full service on the CTA.
Gutierrez was born in Chicago on December 10, 1953. He graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 1977 with a degree in English and worked as a teacher, social worker, community activist and city official until his 1986 election as Alderman from the city's 26th ward. In the Chicago City Council, he led the fight for affordable housing, tougher ethics rules, and a law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. He and his wife Soraida have two daughters, Omaira and Jessica and a grandson, Luisito.