PI Original Adam Doster Tuesday April 27th, 2010, 12:02pm

As Immigration Debate Heats Up, Gutierrez Goes On A Tear

Following the passage of Arizona's draconian immigration bill, Illinois' own Rep. Luis Gutierrez is on bit of a warpath, pressuring his colleagues to consider comprehensive reforms.

Illinois' own Rep. Luis Gutierrez is on bit of a warpath these days. It started back in March, when the Chicago Democrat raised a legitimate stink over the final health care reform bill's restrictions on undocumented immigrants. In the wake of the health care fight, the immigration debate has resurfaced and he is putting increased pressure on his D.C. colleagues to act on comprehensive reform.

On Sunday, Gutierrez traveled to Phoenix to protest Arizona's new draconian immigration law, which essentially institutionalizes racial profiling by requiring police officers to question anyone they "reasonably suspect" of being undocumented. Gutierrez called the measure a "civil rights catastrophe." He even suggested that tourists cancel summer vacations to Arizona in solidarity with the state's Latino population.

In an interview with Fox Chicago last night, Gutierrez explained why he finds the law so odious. "The police should always interact with the public ... because of our behavior, because of our conduct," he said. "But they shouldn't stop you because they think they want to check your immigration status." Watch:

During the spot, Gutierrez went on to praise President Obama for instructing the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to evaluate the constitutionality of the Arizona measure.  But the law would never have been passed, immigrant rights groups argue, if the new president and the Democratic Congress had prioritized immigration reform in 2009.  He even said yesterday that, if invited to play golf with the president any time soon, he would turn down the offer.

Gutierrez' anger with the Obama administration extends beyond the president, however.

Last week, he ridiculed the idea that Rahm Emanuel would make for a good mayoral candidate in Chicago.  The White House Chief of Staff should "stay in the White House," Gutierrez said, or "go make millions in investment banking," a reference to Emanuel's four-year stint at Chicago-based firm Wasserstein Perella. To understand Gutierrez' animosity towards Emanuel, look no further than his history of warning Democrats about taking up comprehensive immigration reform for fear of a political backlash.

The Latino congressman is frustrated with Gov Quinn as well.

Last night, 200 people gathered at a restaurant in Little Village for a community forum about the growing importance of the Latino community to Illinois' economy and politics. Gutierrez invited Gov. Pat Quinn, who sent along two close advisers instead.  As the Chicago Democrat Examiner reported, once behind the mic, Gutierrez delivered a laundry list of complaints about the governor's outreach to Latinos, including the paucity of Latinos hired in state positions. While he said he wants Quinn to be successful, he added that the governor "needs to come here and he needs to negotiate with our community and help deliver to the growth, health and development of Latinos."

With other legislative priorities threatening to once again upstage immigration reform in the coming months, be sure to keep any eye on Gutierrez, who is showing no signs of letting up.


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