Accessibility links

Congressman Luis Gutierrez Discusses Growing Up as an Immigrant in Chicago

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) says he is hoping a comprehensive immigration reform bill will be signed into law during President Obama’s second term in office.

During a 20-minute interview with VOA’s Patricia Dalmasy-de Lucio, host of the Spanish language program Foro Interamericano, Congressman Gutierrez discussed prospects for immigration reform and what it was like to grow up as the son of Puerto Rican immigrants in Chicago during the 1950s.

“All the newspapers, magazines and in television, the comments about Puerto Ricans when they arrived in the 50s was that they had tropical illnesses, that they came to bring crime, and that they lived from welfare and that they were lazy.”

But, Gutierrez says, that was not the way his parents were, “it was not reality.”

Gutierrez, who recently released a book recounting his rise from the streets of Chicago, including working as a cab driver for 8 years before he entered politics, says the language used to describe immigrants today is sometimes similar to the 50s.

The congressman says he plans to stay in congress and push for immigration reform until a bill is approved and signed into law by President Obama.

He expects that to happen before Obama leaves office in 2016, and after that he plans to “go back to the communities and the barrios” to help them take advantage of the new law.

Gutierrez also discussed the growth in immigrant populations, his sometimes strained relations with President Obama, the government shutdown and the stalemate over government spending and the importance of trade with Latin America.

The entire interview will air in Spanish on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 830am, ET. Parts of the interview are being aired during Wednesday’s edition of El Mundo al Dia, as well as on VOA radio and online at www.voanoticias.

For more information about this release contact Kyle King at the VOA Public Relations office in Washington at (202) 203-4959, or write Additional information can be found at the VOA Public Relations website, or the main news site