Luis V. Gutiérrez
District running for: IL-04
Political/civic background: Aide to Mayor Harold Washington, Alderman of the 26th Ward, Chicago Member of Congress (elected 1992)
Occupation: U.S. Representative, IL-04
Education: B.A. Northeastern Illinois University
Campaign website: luisgutierrezforcongress.com
Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board questionnaire responses
Q) What are your three top national legislative priorities for the country?
A) (1) Passage of the Working Families Agenda which would raise the minimum wage,
guarantee equal pay for equal work, ensure paid vacation time and family and sick leave
and allow for affordable childcare for working parents; (2) with an average of 89 people
per day dying of gun violence, we need to pass comprehensive gun control legislation that
requires a background check on every gun sold in America so that guns are less likely to
end up in the wrong hands; and (3) Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) so that
American families need not fear deportation of their loved ones and American workers and
businesses are able to play by the rules to the benefit of all--and our nation finally has the
functioning immigration system it deserves.
Q: What are the three most important issues in your district on which you believe the federal
government needs to act?
A) Same as the answers above: the Working Families Agenda, reducing gun violence and
Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
Q) What is your biggest fundamental difference with your opponent(s)?
A) I provide unparalleled service to my Chicago constituents and fight as my top priority for
their interests in Washington, but I do not agree that a member of Congress should limit his
or her leadership to the local level alone. The job of a U.S. Representative is a federal one,
with consequences for Chicagoans and all Americans and I believe my national leadership
on the priorities of those in my district is my job and a vital asset, not a liability. For
example, in consultation with my constituents and Chicago leaders, I submitted to the
White House in early 2011 the very first detailed memo on the President's ability to stop
the deportations and exercise his discretion to allow DREAMers and millions of the
undocumented to live and work in the U.S. without fear. My memo launched a national
conversation and helped to galvanize our communities nationwide around the common
goal of executive action. I am very proud of how successful we have been. We now have
various prosecutorial discretion memos that better protect law abiding immigrants from
deportation, the historic creation of DACA in 2012 that so far has provided nearly 700,000
DREAMers (and several thousand in my district) with a work permit and protection from
deportation, and the announcement in November 2014 of expanded DACA and the new
DAPA program for parents. And while this last announcement has been challenged by its
opponents in the courts, the law is on our side and I am confident we will prevail in the
Supreme Court where the case will be heard in April and millions more immigrants will
qualify this summer for the executive action that I and others across the country fought so
hard for. These national policy victories are among my greatest accomplishments as a
Congressman and have had far-reaching impact on my constituents and American families
across our nation.
Q) Will you pledge to make public: a) your campaign schedule; b) your fundraiser schedule
and the names of all fundraiser hosts ; c) if elected, your daily schedule of meetings? If not,
A) I can make these pledges, with the understanding that I dedicate most of my time to my work
as a Member of Congress, so my campaign activity is quite limited and overseen by me with few
resources. I will review if there is more I can do with the limited capacity of my campaign
website to provide additional information. With regard to my congressional work to which I
devote nearly all of my time, I have the largest following in Congress on Facebook because I
proudly share with the public daily updates on my activities, policy positions and whereabouts. I
am also prepared to post notice of official meetings to my congressional website and will do so
by the first of March.
Q) Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.
A) My wife Soraida is Treasurer to my campaign, thanks to her background in finance and
Q) What are the most important actions Congress can take to reduce the threat of ISIS
abroad and at home?
A) ISIS is like no terrorist threat we have ever confronted before because, instead of
massive attacks like 9-11, they use more rudimentary means to carry out their violence and
instill fear and terror, such as suicide bombs and mass shootings. Our intelligence agencies
and the U.S. military with our international coalition partners should hunt down terrorists
wherever they are and provide the training and support that Iraqi and Syria forces need to
fight and defeat ISIL on the ground. We also need as our number one diplomatic priority to
negotiate a transition in Syria that removes Bashar al-Asad from power and replaces him
with a government that represents all Syrians. On the domestic front, we need to prevent
suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons, reinstitute the assault
weapons ban, shut down the ability of ISIS to conduct on-line recruitment in the U.S. and
work closely with the Muslim-American community to fight against radicalization and
Islamophobia, both of which create opportunities for ISIS' reach in the United States.
Finally, I believe we need to put the best minds together in the public and private sectors to
identify the most effective, technologically feasible solutions to track terrorists' encrypted
communications without resorting to mass surveillance that most Americans reject.
Q) What bans, if any, do you support on Muslim admissions to the United States? Please
explain your position.
A) None. Americans' beef is not with Muslims, but with ISIS, al-Qaeda and terrorists who
seek to harm us. It is our commitment to religious equality and the freedom to worship that
has made us the greatest nation on earth and this is no time to abandon who we are by
imposing a religious test on those who seek to enter the U.S. We should not succumb to
fear of ISIS and abandon our core American values.
Q) Specifically, how would you have, or how did you, vote on the American Security Against
Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 and its efforts to make it harder for Syrian and Iraqi
refugees to enter the U.S.? Please explain your position.
A) When some in politics, including our Illinois Governor, suggested we close our doors to
women and children seeking a safe haven from terror, I was among the first to strongly
condemn them. I voted against the so-called SAFE Act of 2015 which would limit the
admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to the United States. Shutting our doors to refugees
fleeing terror represents a radical departure from the humanitarian response of the
international community, including that of France where, despite the horrific terrorist
attacks in Paris, they continue to accept refugees. Of course our utmost priority is the safety
of the American people, but protecting our homeland and accepting refugees are not
mutually exclusive goals. That's why those seeking refugee status in the U.S. undergo the
most stringent security and screening measures of any other group who comes to the
U.S. and why we can and must uphold our legacy as a beacon of hope for those fleeing
oppression and violence.
Q) Do you support a Syrian no-fly zone or the U.S. enforcement of Syrian humanitarian safe
zones? Why or why not?
A) Given the atrocities of Bashar al-Assad against his own people, I understand the initial
appeal of the idea of a no-fly zone. But I do not think it will free the Syrian people from the
Assad regime and ending Syria's air war would require a far deeper, longer term
commitment from the U.S. than just shooting an occasional helicopter or jet from the sky.
American troops on the ground would be necessary to enforce the zone and protect
civilians, raising the possibility of the U.S. slipping into war with no exit strategy, as well as
confronting the Russians who lend air support to Assad. I believe sending American troops
to Syria would make matters worse and fail to accomplish the goals of the United States,
and I am therefore unwilling to put our troops in harm's way to create and enforce it.
Q) Regarding the House Benghazi Select Committee, should its investigation remain open-
ended, or should the panel be given a deadline to complete its work? Please explain.
A) The House Benghazi Committee should have been given a deadline to complete its work;
19 months and counting is long enough. I am concerned that the Committee has become
overtly political and partisan, and I doubt it will provide any additional facts or insights that the
eight prior investigations into the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya
haven't already provided. Instead, I think that Congress should act on the security lessons of
Benghazi and provide the resources and reforms we desperately need to better protect our
diplomats. This is the only way to truly honor the sacrifice of Ambassador J. Christopher
Stevens the three other Americans who died at the mission in Benghazi.
Q) What measures, if any, do you support to give U.S. authorities access to encrypted or "dark
web" communications about potential terrorist plots? Please explain.
A) I sit on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and I know that dark
web communications by terrorists is a serious challenge for our intelligence community. At
the same time, U.S. agencies have made serious advances in cyber intelligece gathering,
making it even more difficult for criminals and terrorists to hide in the dark web. I strongly
support authorities pursuing terrorists and disrupting terrorist plots whereever they can
be found, including the dark web. I also believe this can and should be done in a way that
upholds the law, strengthens data- and cybersecurity, protects the privacy and civil
liberties of those not involved in nefarious activities, and provides checks and balances to
ensure that the U.S. government does not conduct surveillance of innocent Americans.
Q) Do you support transferring the detention of terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay to
the United States? Why or why not?
A) I support the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the transfer of the detainees to the United
States. It makes financial sense: With a population of around 90 individuals, the prison at
Guantanamo is nearly empty at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the
American taxpayer. It also makes sense from a security standpoint: I trust our law
enforcement and Supermax prison professionals in the U.S. to maintain control over the
most dangerous prisoners, including terrorists. It also makes sense from a moral and
constitutional standpoint: indefinite detention without charges or a trial flies in the face of
more than two centuries of American legal tradition and the 5th Amendment.
Q) What is the single most important action Congress can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
A) I think the single most important action Congress can take to reduce gun violence is to
make anyone who wants to purchase a firearm first pass a background check. Currently
only 60 percent of gun purchases are conducted with a background check. And despite the
fact that 90 percent of Americans support such checks, the powerful gun lobby continues to
exert its influence over many members of Congress to prevent action on this
straightforward and lifesaving measure. Given the daily loss of life to gun violence,
including horrific mass shootings, this inaction is a shameful stain on the U.S. Congress.
Q) Do you support or oppose the ''Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists
Act?" Please explain your position.
A) I strongly support and I was among the first to sign onto the Discharge Petition for the
Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, a commonsense proposal
that would close the loophole that currently allows individuals on the FBI's Terrorist
Watchlist to buy guns. It is ridiculous that we would prevent a dangerous individual from
boarding a plane, but allow them to purchase weapons in the U.S.
Q) Do you believe there is scientific evidence of climate change, and is it caused by human
activity? What is your position on the Paris climate change agreement?
A) Yes, we have scientific evidence of climate change and the fact that human activity
causes it. As I write this we have just learned from NASA and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration that 2015 smashed 2014's temperature record. I believe in
science. I also believe we can change our behavior to slow and reverse climate change to
protect the planet for future generations, but we need to act fast. This is what the Paris
agreement is all about: a strong, international commitment to reduce carbon pollution
around the world. There is more work to be done, for sure, but this established a
framework among nearly 200 nations and will serve as the blueprint to ultimately solve the
world's climate crisis. And I am proud of the leadership of the U.S. and its commitment to
reduce our carbon footprint, which I believe creates jobs, saves households money and
improves public health.
Q) What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
A) I believe changes to the tax code must be balanced in terms of spending cuts and revenues.
Corporations and the wealthy must also share the burden to help reduce our deficits. I support
limiting high-income tax benefits, eliminating tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy and special
interests and securing the payment of taxes on profits hidden in offshore accounts. Greater
investments in America--in infrastructure, manufacturing and education--are needed to increase tax receipts, spur the economy and create jobs, reduce crime, and help revitalize neighborhoods like those in the 4th District.
Q) What are the most important actions Congress can take to ensure the solvency of Social
A) Millions of working Americans and their families depend on the earned benefits from
our social safety net to stay out of poverty. I have opposed proposals that would cut the
earned benefits in Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. Instead, I would support raising
the wage cap on Social Security payroll contributions to extend solvency by bringing in
additional revenues. When I first ran for Congress, I expressed my commitment to raising
this cap and indeed we did. But the cap needs to be raised again; I would be glad to
contribute a greater percentage of my paycheck to help keep Social Security solvent and
viable for my grandson and future generations. Too many in my congressional district
believe Social Security is a ponzi scheme, and we must act to contradict that narrative.
Q) Do you support a "risk fee" on big banks? Why or why not?
A) Yes, I think a risk fee on big banks is a modest proposal and just one tool of many to help
prevent future excesses of Wall Street. In 2010 I served on the Financial Services
Committee and the Conference Committee to pass the Dodd-Frank law, the cornerstone of
our response to the financial crisis. A risk fee, among other policies, would give regulators
an additional tool to use if confronted with too-big-to-fail financial institutions behaving in
a way that can hurt the broader economy. The fee would incentivize big banks to behave
within reasonable limits and not take on too much risk.
Q) Should Obamacare be overturned, left intact, or changed and if so how?
A) I strongly support the Affordable Care Act and oppose its repeal. More Americans have
health insurance and the quality of that coverage has improved for millions of Americans.
Obamacare also eliminated gender discrimination by health insurance companies and
ensures coverage of preventive and essential services for women. Of course, there is room
for improvement, which is why I introduced the "Exchange Inclusion for a Healthy America
Act," a bill that would impose the individual mandate on undocumented immigrants who
meet residency requirements and allow them to purchase health care insurance in the
exchanges with subsidies if they qualify, spreading risk and further reducing the number of
uninsured. I also strongly support the Health Equity and Accountability Act, which would
inform our future efforts to improve America's healthcare system by finally collecting the
data we desperately need to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.
Q) Do you favor stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood? Why or why not?
A) I absolutely support federal funding for the vital services Planned Parenthood provides
its patients and have repeatedly voted against defunding Planned Parenthood. With
federal funds, Planned Parenthood gives millions of low-income men and women access
to reproductive health services, education, and information, birth control, cancer
screenings, STI screenings, and mammograms. It is important to note that Planned
Parenthood does not use federal funds for abortions, which represent only 3 percent of
their health services. My constituents have voted on this issue with their feet: In Illinois,
Planned Parenthood provides 140,000 medical visits a year, 25% of which are to patients
in my District. Clearly, women's health, the health care of American families, and the
freedom of women to control their own bodies are deeply important to my constituents
and their families and to me.
Q) President Obama used his executive powers to prevent the deportation of
"DREAMers youths who came to the U.S. illegally as children with their parents. Would you
support legislation to prevent DREAMer deportations? Do you support putting DREAMers on
a path to citizenship?
A) My record on this is well known. I introduced the very first DREAM Act in Congress,
worker hard to pass the DREAM Act in the House and have consistently supported relief for
DREAMers Americans but for a piece of paper that includes a path to citizenship. I
fought and continue to fight the Obama Administration on the deportations and made my
first demand for executive action right after the DREAM Act failed to pass the Senate in
December 2010. I strongly support President Obama's executive actions in this regard
and am pleased the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case for DAPA and expanded
DACA and I believe our community will prevail. Of course, executive actions are no
replacement for legislation and I will continue to work for a permanent solution whenever
the Republicans return to the table and negotiate a solution that fixes our broken
immigration system once and for all.
Q) What congressional reforms do you favor to address America's student loan crisis?
A) With college tuition and fees on the rise, students have to take out more and more loans
in order to be able to earn a college degree. Student loan debt has doubled over the past
seven years and is now close to $1.3 trillion, limiting young adults' ability to take out car
loans or buy a home or save for retirement a fact that also undermines our economic
recovery. For those students who establish financial need, I strongly support expanding
access to federal Pell grants which do not have to be repaid. I also strongly favor all
students' access to federal student loans which have lower interest rates, greater
transparency and stronger consumer protections than private sector loans. I am also a
cosponsor of the America's College Promise Act which makes a community college
education free and the Student Loan Debt Relief Act which would eliminate the unfair tax
on a student's debt that has been discharged.
Luis V. Gutiérrez is endorsed by the Sun-Times. Read the endorsement.