Meet Congressman Luis Gutierrez
Luis Vicente Gutiérrez has served in House of Representatives since 1993. He is recognized as the "national leader on comprehensive immigration reform." In the 113th Congress, with his 20 years of service, Gutiérrez became the longest serving member of the Illinois House delegation, and is the dean of the delegation. Of Puerto Rican descent, he is an outspoken advocate of workers' rights, LGBT rights, gender equality, and other liberal and progressive causes. Gutiérrez has been compared to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., due to both figures' use of non-violent civil disobedience in their advocacy for the equal rights of their communities. His supporters have given him the nickname El Gallito – the little fighting rooster – in reference to his fiery oratory and political prowess. Gutiérrez was born and raised in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, then an immigrant and working-class community. His mother was an assembly-line worker and his father was a cab driver. After his freshman year at St. Michael's High School, his parents moved the family to their hometown of San Sebastián, Puerto Rico. Gutiérrez, who had never before visited the island, reluctantly followed his parents; there he learned to speak Spanish. In 1974, Gutiérrez returned to Chicago and enrolled at Northeastern Illinois University. He got involved in student activism and social justice issues, writing for the student publication Que Ondee Sola and serving as the president of the Union for Puerto Rican Students. In 1976, while a senior at Northeastern, he began driving a cab in order to raise enough funds to reunite with his longtime girlfriend, Soraida, in Puerto Rico. In 1976, after graduating from Northeastern Illinois University with a degree in English, he returned to Puerto Rico and married Soraida. The couple returned to Chicago in 1978 and, unable to find other work, Gutiérrez took up taxi driving full-time. Gutiérrez eventually found work as a social worker with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services. Gutiérrez has been married to Soraida Arocho Gutiérrez for almost forty years. Together they have two daughters – Omaira and Jessica. Jessica's middle name – Washington – comes from the late Mayor Harold Washington, a close friend and mentor of Gutiérrez. Soraida battled and survived cancer in the 2000s.