“Between the shockingly exorbitant salaries of your staff and what appears to me to be an excessive use of a large and unnecessary protection detail, I can only say that I am appalled.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) participated in a hearing on Tuesday in the House Natural Resources Committee where he asked questions of two senior leaders of the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and management Board, also known as the Junta de Control Fiscal of just the Junta. They were reluctant to answer his questions, to say the least. A video of the Congressman’s questions and answers at the hearing is here: https://youtu.be/-JjLk_tm4bw Today, Rep. Gutiérrez wrote to the Chairman of the Junta José B. Carrión, III to express “outrage and dismay” at the performance of the two officials and request that they be fired immediately.
November 8, 2017 Press Release
“I should not have to give this speech almost two months after the storm. We should have accomplished much more. The people of Puerto Rico pretty much understand that President Trump doesn’t want to help them.”
This morning on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) reported on his third and latest relief trip to Puerto Rico bringing aid from the people of Chicago to the stricken island. During his trip (Friday 11/3 – Monday 11/6), the Congressman visited several towns, including Jayuya and Loíza where he met with local mayors and community leaders. He brought photographs from his most recent trip to illustrate his floor speech this morning. The Congressman began his remarks by saying “I wish I could report that a lot of progress is being made, but I can’t. It is still a disaster that is a stain on the reputation of the United States.” The first picture was of a group of people by the side of a road near Jayuya washing clothes with spring water in a bucket using a toilet plunger. The Congressman said, “This man is a police officer, but he is learning to make do, just like every other Puerto Rican. Everywhere you go, you see Puerto Ricans making do.”
November 7, 2017 Press Release
Makes Federal Share of Disaster Relief 100% for Puerto Rico
At a press conference today, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) introduced the Waiver of Emergency Payments Act (WEPA), a bill to eliminate cost-sharing requirements for Puerto Rico for recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Under current law (the Stafford Act that governs FEMA major disaster assistance), Puerto Rico or any U.S. state or territory would be expected to pay up to 25% of the costs to the federal government of disaster relief. In addition, with certain forms of assistance the Administration has the authority to assume a cost share greater than 75% by waiving a percentage of the state or territory cost share, but such waivers are often time limited and rarely dip below 10%. Under WEPA, if enacted, all cost-sharing would be waived for Puerto Rico in handling the current disaster. The bill does not have an assigned bill number as of this writing. “Puerto Rico was in a dire financial strain before Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria and has struggled every day since the storms made landfall,” said Rep. Espaillat. “Puerto Rico is flat out broke and to require the island to pay for its own recovery is simply outrageous and harsh. We introduced this bill as part of our efforts to continue the call for emergency federal assistance to rebuild Puerto Rico and to ensure the island receives the funding it needs and does not have to pay for its own clean up. It’s simply the right thing to do.” “Puerto Rico needs all the help it can get and should not be constrained in asking for help based on what it can pay back, said Rep. Gutiérrez. “The government of Puerto Rico is already controlled by the financial oversight and management board, known as the Junta. Let’s not mess around with payments and waivers; Puerto Rico should be off the hook, period, punto, when it comes to recovery.”
November 7, 2017 Press Release
“The cost of electing a President with deep-seated animosity towards Latinos and immigrants is becoming more real – and more tragic – every day.”
Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced it is cancelling Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaraguans in the United States, terminating the work authorization and protection from deportation for approximately 2,500 individuals who have lived, worked, and raised families in the U.S. for almost two decades. This is the latest round of news on the TPS program and further terminations are expected that could end TPS status for 57,000 Hondurans and the other people currently protected by TPS (the overall estimate is 320,000 people from 10 countries). The next decision date is on November 23 for approximately 50,000 Haitians living and working in the United States. "The President does not have a mandate to turn documented immigrants into undocumented immigrants so that it is easier to deport them, yet by terminating TPS and the DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, that is exactly what he is doing. He is uprooting millions of lives that have been established in the United States, families that are deeply ingrained in American communities, businesses that help our economy and working men and women who contribute to our success. It is an avoidable tragedy that the President is inflicting on our nation..."
November 3, 2017 Press Release
This morning, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) flew to Puerto Rico for his third relief trip since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. He will visit towns that are still struggling to recover, meet with Mayors leading the recovery efforts, and deliver direct relief aid from the people of Chicago to Puerto Rico, coordinated by the Puerto Rican Agenda. Saturday he will visit Caguas. On Sunday he will visit Jayuya and meet with Mayor Jorge “Georgie” González Otero. Later Sunday, he will visit with the Sisters of Jesus Mediador (Hermanas de Jesús Mediador) who work with the distressed, homeless and vulnerable in El Volcan, Bayamón. On Monday, the Congressman will return to Loíza to visit Mayor Julia Nazario and meet with Oscar López Rivera, the former political prisoner who is organizing a community reconstruction brigade to help rebuild the island.
November 2, 2017 Press Release
“You simply cannot make a deal with Donald Trump and expect him to hold up his end of the bargain two months, two weeks or two minutes later.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) issued a statement today in response to news that Republican Senators and President Trump have decided to exclude the DREAM Act or any other protection for immigrant youth with DACA from the spending package that must be passed by December 8. The following is a statement from Rep. Gutiérrez who is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "The President ended DACA and the top priority of many Democrats is to make sure that DREAMers are in a safe place by the end of this year. It sounds like Republicans and the President are reneging on that plan and all the promises we had from the White House to work towards passage of a bill to protect DREAMers from deportation are out the window. You simply cannot make a deal with Donald Trump and expect him to hold up his end of the bargain two months, two weeks or two minutes later."
“We know President Trump wants to end the program because the majority of the people who come to America on Diversity visas are from sub-Saharan Africa and it has always been on the hit list of the anti-immigration movement.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) issued a statement today in response to President Trump’s attacks on the Diversity Visa Program and Senator Chuck Schumer’s alleged role in creating the program. After the murder of eight people in New York, two of whom were Americans, by a terrorist from Uzbekistan, the President claimed that the Diversity Visa program that grants 50,000 green cards (Lawful Permanent Resident status) per year was to blame for the attack and that Senator Schumer’s support for the program was singled out for blame. The following is a statement from Rep. Gutiérrez who is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
October 31, 2017 Press Release
Announcement comes in response to Cleaver and Gutiérrez’s letter requesting Private Prison CEO’s back serious criminal justice reform efforts
(Washington, D.C.) - Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver, II and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) applaud the news today that one of the largest private prison systems in the United States has agreed to their request to support criminal justice reform efforts. Earlier this year, Congressman Cleaver (D-MO) and Congressmen Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) sent a letter to the CEO's of Core Civic and The Geo Group, INC urging the private prison CEO’s to back national criminal justice reform efforts. In the letter, which can be found here, to CEO Damon Hininger and CEO George Zoley, the Congressmen stated, "Your organizations have often publicly said that you do not support positions that lead to enhanced incarceration, but in supporting a President who is implementing policies designed to increase the populations of individuals in both criminal and immigration detention, you are advocating for policies that deprive people of their liberty in order for you to increase your profits," "We believe this is immoral and unjust,"... Today, Core Civic responded to the letter announcing a stepped-up effort to lobby for government programs and policies to keep former inmates from returning behind bars. Core Civic listed several steps to achieve this goal on their website. Among the concrete steps, the company said it will advocate for "ban the box" policies to keep employers from asking about a job applicant's criminal history until after an initial interview. "Ban the box" policies have been put in place for state workers in 29 states. Nine states have removed the conviction history question from private employer job applications, according to the National Employment Law Project. Of the 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005, 77 percent were re-arrested within five years, and more than half returned to prison, a federal study found. Roughly 70 million Americans have an arrest or a conviction record.
This is still a major emergency even though it is fading from the headlines on the mainland.”
For weeks, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) has expressed concern that the elderly and most vulnerable people in Puerto Rico who want to leave for safety on the mainland have not been given the means to do so, but Wednesday, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló made a request to FEMA that could, if approved, help some of the most vulnerable on the island reach safety. The Governor requested that the FEMA Temporary Shelter Assistance (TSA) program be turned on so that people whose homes are destroyed or uninhabitable can access temporary shelter on the island and anywhere in the United States. If FEMA grants the request, it could help some of the people who have left Puerto Rico by their own means to seek FEMA-funded temporary stays in hotels and motels in Chicago and elsewhere. “There is a lot more that FEMA can be doing to get assistance to people in Puerto Rico and a lot more they can do to get the elderly, the sick and the vulnerable to safety,” said Congressman Gutiérrez who has visited the island to deliver relief supplies from Chicago twice since Hurricane Maria hit in September.
“The last thing the people need right now is a fat cat lining his pockets with money because they are well-connected when that money should be saving lives.”
Yesterday, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) wrote to the Attorney General and the FBI Director asking them to investigate the circumstances around the awarding of a $300 million contract to an obscure Montana firm with close ties to President Trump’s campaign for rebuilding the electrical grid in hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. Today, Rep. Gutiérrez spoke on the House floor outlining why he feels the deal with Whitefish Energy appears to be “fishy.” “So what is going on here?” Rep. Gutiérrez said on the House floor. “A tiny company that does not have a track record gets one of the biggest contracts to help rebuild Puerto Rico in a no-bid, out of the ordinary contracting procedure?”