August 29, 2008
A few weeks ago, amidst the preparations for the march in Postville, Iowa, in protest for the barbarous raid against Agriprocessors, Inc. workers, Luis all of the sudden remembered the issue of immigration.
He had been in hiding for over a year, without being seen in public. He has closed his office in Pilsen, the Mexican barrio in Chicago, and more than once he “apologized for not being able to participate” in events where his presence had been announced. But in August he found enough courage to leave his clandestine existence and took off towards Postville, where he defended in big style the rights of immigrant workers. Once back, he sent a letter to George Bush criticizing him as tough against immigrants, for forgetting his promise to be “compassionate” with them, and for spending 590 thousand dollars to keep in jail many of those detained in Postville.
In the letter he said all that we already knew: mothers’ with electronic bracelets on their ankles, children who have been working some years at the factory despite being only 17 now, and women who suffered discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. Literally, he complained because “these men and women are suffering at the hands of the U.S. government and our President”, and because “Our immigration system has opened the way to make objects out of Human beings”.
Maybe encouraged because he had been able to show up in public, Luis wrote another letter for a Washington magazine, “Político”, where he said “the Gestapo is in charge of Homeland Security”. Gestapo was the special force used by Adolph Hitler during the Third Reich in Germany.
La Migra, Immigration, did not like the comparison, and declared they will ask the U.S. Congress to punish Luis. After all, said the Legislative Director of La Migra, Jamie Zuieback, “our agents should not be criticized when enforcing the laws approved by the Congress of which Mr. Guti-érrez is part of”.
Right! Just in case our readers are still asking who Luis is, we are talking about Luis Gutiérrez, the clandestine Congressman of the Illinois Fourth District.
His friends, because he still has some, faster than immediately launched an offensive campaign against the idea of asking for Luis’ punishment, but these days he does not have many supporters. The general view about Luis is that he’s lonelier than an abandoned dog in a back alley. Some internet e-mails condemn La Migra (we agree with those,) and they celebrate the name “Gestapo” for them (we agree even more with those,) but other messages remembered that “the general goal of Immigration is to detain ¡¡¡27 thousand people a day!!! (That’s what Luis Gutiérrez proposed in his STRIVE initiative. Which side is he on, anyway?)”
Luis would seem to be on the side of immigrants, but he left his position clear, in black and white ink, in STRIVE: criminalization of undocumented immigrants; legalization in a 12-year long process, expensive and only after the border was secured and a program to verify every worker in the United States was in place; jail terms for employers who hired undocumented workers, immigration laws enforcement by local police departments and so on. (Thinking about it, sounds awfully a lot like McCain’s immigration plan!)
But Luis wants out of his clandestine mode. For months he only spoke to a few reporters and did not even returned calls to those who wanted to ask him about the Migra’s request for punishment. He didn’t even answer the reporter who got a front page article in one of the most popular newspapers in Chicago portraying his Green Party opponent for the Fourth Congressional District, Omar López.
López, activist and convener of the immigration marches since 2006, has won the endorsements of the Greater Chicago Caucus and the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, the two most influential political action committees in the state. These actions have forced Luis to start campaigning, and to forget his (well founded in this thwarted election system,) assumption that voters would simply elect him by default when voting for Obama.
It was also said that Luis was quiet because “he has a lot of chances” to be the next Illinois Senator, given his close friendship with Governor Rod Blagojevich, who will appoint Obama’s successor it he wins the race to the White House. Never the less, another rumor says, Blagojevich wants to appoint himself to such a beautiful seat.
But there’s also the rumor that “the good one” will be Jan Schakowsky, Congresswoman for the Illinois 9th District. As a fact, Luis missed one of the greatest “citizenship fairs” this year after being announced along with Richard Durbin and Schakowsky. Some gossipers said his absence was due to the request to keep away from Jan, to avoid giving her a bad image.
What’s not a rumor is that Luis is presenting “Los Tigres del Norte” at the Ravinia cultural center through a newly formed “Immigration PAC”, with which he wants to raise funds to distribute amongst other immigrant-friendly candidates. If these candidates support immigration the way he “supported” it in STRIVE, we could very well apply the old saying “with friends like these… who needs enemies?”
But punishing Luis would not be worth it. Let’s just leave the punishment in the hands of his constituents in November. They can get him out of the place where he’s been hiding for the last 16 years… the U.S. Congress…
Contacto Jorge Mújica Murias at firstname.lastname@example.org