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tv   Conversations with Retiring Members - Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez  CSPAN  September 29, 2018 10:29pm-11:08pm EDT

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night at a :00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q and a. >> longtime illinois representative luis gutierrez says he will move to puerto rico from illinois after his term ends this year. he sat down with c-span to talk about his career in politics, his early years in chicago, and his plans after he leaves office. first elected in 1992, you are stepping down at the end of this year. why? i want to live out the last chapter of my life doing something different, and something that i think will be more impactful and more determining of the future of our country. i have been here 26 years, in the congress of the united states. think the lasti
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couple of weeks are demonstrative of that, that i helped create an immigrant movement in the united states of america, and in the democratic caucus and the democratic party, and in many areas and places, economic, business spaces, educational spaces, and in this political space that is the congress of the united states, a genuine support and the majority for immigration reform. i have done, now that, now let me elected president that will implement immigration reform. secondly, the tragedy of puerto rico. there was always something special about the birthplace of your parents, just something. i wasn't born in puerto rico but my mom and dad were, and it has always held a special place in my heart and the hearts of my children. and i saw the devastation. i saw the terrible, poor, miserable, lame response of the
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federal government, the richest, most powerful, most technologically advanced nation in the world. and now we know thousands of people die from hurricane maria, and still the suffering continues. hundreds of thousands of people have fled the island with no opportunity of returning. so i will, after my daughter's election to the chicago city council, february 20 6, 2019, i will be moving to puerto rico. i will live there. i would've gone earlier to puerto rico, because my last day here is january 2, 2019. i would have gone, but in that movie, every time i think i'm getting out they dragged me back in. in this case, it was my daughter who has decided she wanted to contribute to the public discourse, public service, and i'm a dad, i'm a congressman,
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i've got a lot of titles, dad is the one i'm going to make sure everybody celebrates when i am no longer here. host: you served on the city council went? -- council when? 1986 to 1993,: when i came here. i resigned from the city council and got sworn into the congress of the united states. racial divisions really scarred the city of chicago and the chicago city council. the city of chicago, for those who wish to go down memory lane, yorally elected a black mal in 1982. steve: harold washington. rep. gutierrez: harold washington. he got elected in 1983. it was a three-way race and he wins the democratic primary.
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that into electoral politics, i'm in my 20's, i'm not that into electoral politics, i'm pretty cynical about the electoral process, but here's what i realized, that the democratic party, that dan rostenkowski, chairman of the ways and means committee, counselor to presidents of the united states, i kind of figured c -- soocrati i said to myself, no. you can say you weren't there for the civil rights movement, you would like to of been, you would ever liked to have done more against apartheid, you would have liked to have marched with women for the right to vote, if only was my turn to step up. so i joined his campaign, because there was a clear demarcation for me about politics in chicago.
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you could be a democrat and we could have a democratic slate with 12 irish surnames, people, and that was fine. the candidate for mayor's a congo winning the democratic primary care and square, and you would think you were south of the mason-dixon line. i will say this. my city is grown so much since those dark days. so what year after the election of harold washington iran against congressman dan rostenkowski. i got 24.8% of the vote. that 8/10 of 1% is very important. i worked hard for it or it iran against him to represent the democrats on the central committee of the democratic party of cook county, so iran against him as a ward boss. i called him a paper tiger. a papert that much of
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tiger. i lost, 3-1. but one year after that, a federal court decided the city of chicago had discriminated when they designed the ward maps and the districts, and the call for new elections. and i was ready, and i won the seat,ear, my city council with the help of arab washington, and i ran again in 1987 and in 1991, congress. steve: let's talk about your time in the house. finish this sentence. the house of representatives today is? rep. shuster: the first word is rudderless,is doesn't have direction. the house of representatives has a majority that will not govern, fails to govern and want to let others participate. i have never in my 26 years
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sine congress in which 194 members are simply never considered, not considered. they were doing an immigration bill, the goodlatte bill, and the media keep hearing areblicans talk about, we not sure if we are going with latte bill is a compromise. minds, but thes compromise would be between republicans and democrats. only in the congress of the united states did a compromise within their own party and go around attempting a compromise bill. that's not compromise, that's one-party rule. and here's the dilemma of their party. but speak to their base, their base is no longer the majority of the american people. was, but it if it
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isn't today. so the majority of the american people think immigration is a pretty good thing, thinks that people who are here undocumented should be able to register with the government, get the fingerprints taken, have a background check, and if they have never been involved in criminal activity, be given a chance to register with the government and get good with the government. learn english, learn about the constitution, become a taxpaying, fully incorporated participant. people say they are already paying taxes. i get that. becauseve to say that, the countermeasure always is, they are freeloaders who are not paying taxes, getting free school, free health care, free everything. that's just not true. so most people want to let people who have lived all of their adult life as americans,
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with everything but a piece of paper, most of the american public thinks we should give them a chance and help make them citizens of the united states. only in the republican majority can you find people who will not acquiesce to the wishes of the american people. that immigration, you see issue very very clearly and very, very starkly. i have notnately, seen them double and triple down, so they are going to be as cruel, asasty, as inhumane to immigrants as possible as an election strategy toward the midterms elections -- the midterm elections. so my way to keep my job is to separate infants and children from their mom's who are fleeing r country and seeking asylum in the united states?
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and they like to say, well obama did it. obama did.t he didn't do everything right, either, but a couple of things were different. voice, andaised our a very popular democratic to do better and to do different. and we called to his conscience, we called to who he was, and he changed the policy. he never separated children from their moms. they were just detained a lot longer than they needed to be, and they weren't getting swept away. and when the courts ruled, the courts said you cannot keep a child more than 20 days, and that's a federal court order, 20 days in detention. the secretary of homeland security jeh johnson said to me
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and other democrats said, i will quit, i will resign as the secretary of homeland security if i have to divide the mother. mom andit didn't say the children can only spend 20 days, it said the children. the obama administration said no. in 20 children are freed days, so shall the parents be freed with them so they can continue to live together. it's a pretty fundamental difference. you can complain about your party leadership and still get , unliked to congress other republicans that are almost leaving, resigning, then continued to participate. we got to challenge our and i'm so thankful for barack obama because he was willing to listen, willing to
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listen to criticism, sometimes pretty harsh from us, and still willing to sit down with us, change, and make america a better place for us all. you have republican friends here in the house. why's it so divided? is compromise on immigration, taxes, the budget deficit, why's it so hard to come together, trade, others? rep. gutierrez: this is kind of the macro. look at politics in general. virtue thatip is a is much lauded, much praised, but seldom rewarded in this place. because people go, you are working with the other side, you are not true to our party's principles. so that's the macro. it's not a lot of rewards and working together. on the other hand, i only tried, from the very first day, from the beginning it was senator ted
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kennedy and i working together on immigration. that was bicameral. went to jeff flake, my colleague in the house, and john mccain, and together in 2005 we introduced i partisan, i camera, comprehensive immigration reform, which by the way was endorsed by paul ryan, congressman, he was a signatory on the bill, a sponsor of the bill. so that was bipartisanship, people crossing the isles to talk to one another. they just want -- crossing the talk to one another. they have xenophobia, they keep beating on immigrants, they are all criminals, they're bad people taking away your jobs and they are living free off the hog. speakust the way they
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about it and they use it as an election-year strategy. so donald trump is not original and his anti-immigrant, xena ophobic attitudes. he has taken the greatest hits put them into an album -- greatest hits, put them into an album, and made them his own. they were very old ideas that he was able to put together, a play, and he just puts it together. so the bigotry and the hatred xenophobia are not new, their different manifestations that he has been able to put together. catch and release, that is not old. they talk about anchor babies, all these negative terms. if you look at everything that
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they talk about immigration and being anti-immigrant, my colleagues talk about those things in bits and pieces. steve: what do you think about president trump? rep. shuster: first of all, i think that it is not about what is good for the country, but what he thinks is popular. tyrantsthat in the past, he uses division, i want togotry, discriminate, you are not as good as i am, he uses that to divide america and not to unite our country. it is tax breaks were so great, then run on the tax breaks.
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if the economy is so good, then run on the economy. that's what democrats do, we run on jobs, we run on an economy, we run on positive things that happen to your life. donald trump runs on, you know what, we would be safer if we keep those muslims out of the country because they are a danger to us. here is a man who never served in the military, he got four deferments at least, maybe five. members of the military want to serve. they are americans. the armed forces of the united states, they need them. he wants to kick them out. why? he just made this stuff up. because the military wasn't messing it up. be against the transgender community. let's be against gay people. let's be against muslims. mexicans are murderers, rapists, drug dealers, there are a few good ones but we have to get rid of them. there is this thing about making america hours and making america
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great again. to me it means america going back to a dark time, in which i was born. so this year, i get to sign up for medicare or that also tells you i was born in 1953, when separate but equal was the law of the land. so it was legal for you to say, you can't swim in the swimming pool, you can't live in this neighborhood, you can't go to this school, you can't play in this play lot. lived,the north where i there weren't signs, but you knew better than to go into those playgrounds or try to live in those neighborhoods are swim in the swimming pools. it just did not happen. i love the america that i live , and that my friend lives in today. he gets to walk freer than i ever did, go to any school, live
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in any neighborhood, swim in any swimming pool, and be judged like martin luther king, by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. wants peopleident to look at my grandfather as someone suspicious, someone who is a murderer or a drug dealer or rapist, someone who is coming in to do wrong. the same thing with me. and i think that is what is most telling about donald trump and his policies. children at the border. he always has to be against someone. and us what you are for, how you are uniting us as president of the united states. outthat is how he started with his presidential ambitions. he'sbody kind of forgets the first one who said barack obama wasn't born in the united states. said, i'veone that
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got investigators out there in hawaii and they are coming back with incredible things, information that is really going to show you this is not a .egitimate president o so he becomes president of the united states and he tries to delegitimize they president of the united states by saying he is a muslim, that muslim religion is a bad religion to him, and that he wasn't born in this country. so that is the way he starts. steve: and yet he has support from 40% of the country, the base of the republican party. what does that tell you about the gop and his supporters? rep. gutierrez: i will express it this way. when i got involved in he says remember, in a democracy and in america, the one that gets the most votes wins the election.
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except in america. because you could get 3 million more votes than the other person and still lose the presidential election. so i've been through the election in 2000 and the election in 2016. so my response to all of this is expand the electoral base there is expand my pursue. get more people involved in the way, help tothat become a transformative figure. question,er the leaving here, i will spend a lot of time in pennsylvania, and i will spend a lot of time in florida. i change the electoral college in 2022 blue, and at the same time, large puerto rican communities i can work with, helped grow, help fortify, help empower, so they
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can either go back to their island or be completely integrated in our society, whether florida or pennsylvania. but a know that simply running around the united states of america is foolish for me. i need to focus my energies where i can do the most good. if i believe that donald trump is a threat to the future of our democracy, and is a threat to my grandson living a full, meaningful life in the united states without discrimination, than i have got to work in pennsylvania and in florida and make sure the electoral college is reflected in november 2020 for a democratic candidate. steve: would you agree he could be reelected? rep. shuster: absolutely. and i think that is one of the things, we should not underestimate the power that from beinghatred,
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able to say, let's discriminate, from bias and prejudice. and wery, very powerful, have to counteract that with inclusion. we need to restructure our society so that we all do well, we all do good in our society. going back, i went to a itth grade birthday party, was my grandson's fifth grade birthday party, and he was 10, and i two men who were the dads of one of his classmates. nobody blinked an eye. eye.y blinked and
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i like that america. i feel so much prouder of that america then the america that discriminates against french genders in the military. muslims? regardless of your political persuasion, i say to myself, that sign we had in our house that if you were not catholic and believed in the pope and all his teachings, don't knock on our door, we had one of those signs when i grew up. the seventh-day adventists would never enter my house, or the evangelicals. no. 100% forand fewer and the pope. i like a society in which hindus and muslims and agnostics, because it always seems to me the clearest way to guarantee, one of the clearest ways to is totee our democracy
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let everybody lift their faith if their wish -- if they wish, without me being able to interrupt and their faith, in which jews and muslims and hindus and catholics can practice their religion. i have to respect that. is yourentation orientation, when it comes to your relationship with god and your religion and your faith. there is clearly separation of church and state. we are seeing less and less of that, and that is a real danger to our democracy. steve: you have been making a lot of headlines the last couple of weeks. will you miss not having the megaphone you have is a member of congress? rep. gutierrez: i will be very honest. i've been here 26 years. i think i have one chapter left. i know i look like i could last a bunch more years, but the mornings are telling.
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65 is still 65. i have to get up. if i take care of myself and reach average maturity of a male in the united states of america, i should have about 20 good years left. i don't want to spend them here. i love my colleagues. this institution, but it of the gut allows me to do everything i can. and i don't make up with the with theon't wake up same level of happiness and joy that i did 26 years ago. so you have to ask yourself, what is it in your life that is meaningful? and if you have one chapter left, don't you want to write it well? you have the rest of them in the book, they are done, i will be editing a little bit but they are done. so i want to spend time on 2020
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and after that i will work on immigrant integration across my dream is tout one day go across america helping 11 million people take that step to american citizenship. i can't do that as long as donald trump is president of the united states. that is not going to happen. puerto rico is never going to be rebuilt to 21st-century standards, as long as he is president. so i have to ask myself, am i happy here? and i made it very personal by saying, and i happy, but at the same time, and might fulfilling my responsibility to the people of the fourth congressional district, by coming to this job on days i don't feel like giving them 100%? any job, you have to give 100%. i'll tell you what. i will give 100% to helping people become citizens of
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pennsylvania, to registering the puerto rican community, to causing political upheaval in florida and creating a new dynamic that is going to allow democrats to win in 2020. i'm going to be a joyful soldier in that mission, because at the end of it all, it is taking those that live outside and integrating them fully, incorporating them fully into our society. so i think i'm going to be around and i hope to do an interview with you one day when there are thousands of people outside navy p, registering to become new citizens of the united states of america, signing up for english classes and literacy, just helping them incorporate themselves. i think that's the history of andica, new groups coming continuing to incorporate themselves. steve: will we see your name on the ballot again? rep. gutierrez: i don't think
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so. i'm going to help my daughter. she's important to me. i'm going to be out there knocking on doors. actually, my daughter with her campaign for city council is going to take me back to my original, my original roots in politics. really, just knocking on doors, that kind of hand to hand combat, yard sign to yard sign and door to door. i'm going to do that with her. -- but what i do want is creating new leadership in taking young latinos, and helping them become the new leaders of america. that is something i'm going to be part of, so part of my process is working with my on immigrant
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immigration, on process organization. know in america, one million latinos turn 18 every year. one million. that means every election cycle, that's 4 million more people that can be added to the voter rolls. i hope to be involved in , in harrisburg, in tampa, in orlando, in miami. and after the selection i'm going to be making sure they are registered across this country. i really look at the future of america, and i see that intersection of things i have been fighting for. they had the96,
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defense of marriage act, d oma. marriage would be defined as only between a man and woman. there were four to 35 members of congress and about 60 voted against it. wait tonton couldn't sign it. 20 years later the supreme court said it was unconstitutional. i voted against it. i want to fight for the immigrant community. i look at my daughters and look at their rights in this america, and there reproductive rights, their right to have the same salary as a man, a quality at all the different levels, i want to incorporate. i came here for the women's market was transformative for me. was andomen's that was inclusive of immigrants and muslims and gays and latinos
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and women. secrett to tell you, the issuccess moving forward going to be women. i can see it in this office. is from women. all across america. when i talk to them, they are newly engaged. i've had neighbors. latinos have always, you know what? here's what i found, are greeting me in greater numbers. joy whenthis greater they talk to me. that is a result of donald trump. people see me as a friend and ally in what they believe in.
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i see them as a friend and ally in what they believe in. together we are the majority of the american people. we've got to make sure that politically very well organized. i don't think it is. too many people did not vote in the last election. i think my party did not speak to them as well as they could. look, i know, i look back and i against everyoted trade agreement. do you think donald trump voters think of me as their champion? i was against trade before republicans. i was against the north american free trade agreement. bill daley became commerce secretary. chief of staff to barack obama
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for a while. he was from my city. he was the chairman of my finance committee. i voted against it. .e led the charge do you think they see me as a friend and an ally? no. m, of working men and women. trade agreements are bad when they are not fair agreements for workers. made mistakes in not communicating. maybe we did not communicate well enough that we saved to general voters. i don't know this, i have a feeling a lot of those white workers at general motors that the democrats saved, they did not vote for us in the last election. we have to ask, what can we do better to communicate to other people? five years ago that said white men between 40
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and 55, there was an acceleration of their mortality rate. they were dying. it exceeded african-americans and latinos. did i do anything about it? did it raised a concern? did i say, let me look into this? maybe i didn't. maybe i was not as careful. we have to be watchful and careful about the totality of who we are as a nation. because otherwise people can manipulate them. steve: let me conclude with this question, whether a social worker dealing with justice issues, a congressman, what gutierrez?uis rep. gutierrez: if i see
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somebody being wronged, somebody belittled, somebody suffering injustice, if i see unfairness, i have to say something. i cannot just sit on the sideline and do nothing. old mywas 15 years --ents return to order rico puerto rico. in chicago, i was defined as puerto rican by everybody. nobody said what a great american. the neighborhoods were segregated. that defined me. my nationality. not my birthright. rico whereto puerto there are 3 million puerto ricans. i'm supposed to be going home after chicago. americano, a,
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foreigner. suspect. one of those guys in "west side story." like, it was at me really mean. it was harsh. experience for a experience for a 15-year-old and adolescent to experience that projection. based on people's prejudice, right? from "west side story," a bad person. doesn't speak spanish. does not know our ways. this countryside. he is not one of us. i remember that. i will never forget it. any time i see anybody treated that way, because i see people aren't that way, maybe
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as quick at the english language, do not dress at the moment. shoesd clothing, the old of the old country. they are made fun of because they do not speak the language or listen to the music, they do not come their hair. all of the things i came to understand that you could be judged by, as being different. i remember that. i think it was very defining in who i was. now, where my moving to? puerto rico. it is going to be my home. i know it is a contradiction. it is the evolution of life. i go to the island of puerto rico it is different. now i am a congressman. i am a proud member of the puerto rican diaspora that has reached success in washington,
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d.c. thes wonderful to see breakdown of those stereotypes. even among my own people, community, i was stereotyped and rejected. anthink all of puerto rico s, whether on the island or the states, we see a common cause and we see ourselves as one common people. steve: congressman, thank you for your time. rep. gutierrez: thank you so much. >> alex bolton is a senior staff writer with the hill and he joins us. alex, recount for us today what happened in the senate committee meeting just briefly. alex: well, it seemed to be headed toward a normal confirmation vote, which would have sent brett kavanaugh to the floor for confirmation on tuesday, but then everything changed when jeff flake disappeared from the committee room.

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