Politics

Gutiérrez to Give Up Chicago Address, Voting Power With Move to Puerto Rico

Relocation to hurricane-ravaged territory will come as the Illinois Democrat mobilizes Latino voters ahead of 2020 election

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and House Democrats hold a June 20 rally on the steps of the Capitol to protest family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Retiring Rep. Luis Gutiérrez has served a quarter-decade in Congress. But by this time next year, he won’t have a voting representative of his own.

The Illinois Democrat, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump and longtime advocate of immigrant rights, will move to Puerto Rico in 2019, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I was born in Chicago. I love Chicago,” he told the Sun-Times over the weekend. “But I have to go back home. I have to go back to my other home. I have to go back there and rebuild that island.”

The move to the hurricane-ravaged territory will come as Gutiérrez travels to swing states ahead of the 2020 election to mobilize Latino voters.

In recent days Gutiérrez has slammed Trump’s “cruel, inhumane” crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border and accused the president of using family separation to “gin up” his supporters.

“He doesn’t use it as immigration policy. He doesn’t use it as border patrol policy,” Gutierrez said on ABC’s “This Week.” “He uses it as an issue in order to energize his political base.”

Last week he led Democrats in flooding the House floor with children to protest family separation.

Watch: Gutiérrez, Democrats Flood House Floor With Children, Prompting Disapproval From Chair

The 13-term congressman has twice been arrested while rallying for immigrant rights during the Trump administration. He has also denounced the government’s response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the already debt-ridden island.

“I’ve got to tell you, as long as Trump is president of the United States, they are never going to rebuild it,” he said of Puerto Rico in a SiriusXM interview this spring.

After Gutiérrez announced in November this term will be his last, he hinted he might challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election. But he has since dismissed that idea, saying he will focus on his swing-state tour and on helping to elect his daughter, who is running for City Council in Chicago.

“If anything, all of this stuff on the border and children just makes me ever more cognizant of my responsibility as a dad, and I am going to spend time with her. And so that’s first,” Gutiérrez told the Sun-Times.

His move to Puerto Rico will mean that he loses his right to vote for president and elect full voting representatives for the House and Senate.

“But I will have greater capacity to transmit the crisis to the diaspora and why it is so necessary that this diaspora has the reconstruction of Puerto Rico as its main goal,” he told El Nuevo Dia this month.

The son of Puerto Ricans has long been active in the pro-independence movement and last year was among those who called for a referendum on the territory’s sovereignty.

Gutiérrez will shift his official address from Chicago to Vega Alta, on the island’s northern coast.

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