100 People to Watch This Fall : Page 53 of 102

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) Member of the House Gang of Seven and Judiciary Committee

No one in Congress has worked harder for comprehensive immigration reform over the last decade than Gutierrez. The Illinois Democrat has made the issue his primary focus on Capitol Hill and, in 2010, passed up a run for Chicago mayor in order to continue the congressional fight to overhaul the nation’s broken immigration system.  

“I have unfinished business to complete,” he said at the time. 

In the wake of the Democrats’ successes at the polls in 2012, Gutierrez saw a rare opening to get a comprehensive bill over the finish line, and he’s been scrambling ever since to make sure the chance does not pass him by.

Toward that end, Gutiérrez this year traded his senior position on the powerful Financial Services Committee for a seat on the Judiciary panel, a move he made solely to have more influence over the immigration reform debate. He has also adopted a punishing travel schedule to appear with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in an effort to build broad support for comprehensive reform.

Closer to Washington, Gutierrez has been a driving force behind the bipartisan House group that has been working on a comprehensive reform bill for four years. Those negotiators have yet to release their alternative to the Senate package, but some, including Gutierrez, still view it as the best way to get a proposal to the president’s desk.

Amid the negotiations, there has been some murmuring from liberal circles that Gutierrez has been too willing to compromise for the sake of a deal. But the Chicago native has warned repeatedly that compromise is the only path to success.

“If we have a partisan point of view, you can’t pass comprehensive immigration reform,” he said recently.

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