Top Latino congressman endorses Hillary Clinton

Story highlights

  • Luis Gutiérrez, one of the most outspoken congressmen on immigration reform, endorsed Hillary Clinton's presidential bid Monday
  • The support comes just hours before Clinton is set to speak on immigration in Brooklyn

(CNN)Luis Gutiérrez, a congressman who has represented Illinois since 1993, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in a Univision opinion editorial published Monday.

Gutiérrez, one of the most outspoken congressmen on immigration reform, will introduce Clinton at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Brooklyn on Monday, making his endorsement of the Democratic front-runner official.
"Hillary is with the Latina community and I am with her," Gutiérrez wrote in a translation of the Spanish-language opinion piece. "She will do what is best for Latinos and all Americans. Hillary is poised to propel the country forward, and I'm proud to be with her."
    Gutiérrez heralds Clinton in the piece for meeting with DREAMERers, the children of undocumented immigrants, and for her pledge to go further on immigration than President Barack Obama. The congressman is expected to echo this praise at Monday's event.
    Clinton is expected to outline her immigration platform at the gathering that brings together over 1,000 immigration activists from across the country. The former secretary of state has made immigration reform a central part of her campaign for president. She met with DREAMers in May in Las Vegas and promised a roundtable of immigration activists and stakeholders that she would work for "a path to full and equal citizenship" as president.
    "This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side," she said. "Make no mistake, not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second class status."
    Gutiérrez stood by his state's senator in 2008, endorsing then-Sen. Obama and stumping for him throughout the campaign against Clinton.
    Latinos favored Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin in that contest, something Clinton aides hope will continue in 2016 considering the support she received in 2012. According to Pew, 23.7% of all eligible voters in 2012 were Hispanic.
    But Clinton's 2016 campaign has not been without missteps on immigration and with the Latino community. Clinton used the term "illegal immigrant" during a town hall in New Hampshire, something Latino activists had called her out for. The candidate eventually pledged to not use the term again, saying that it was a "poor choice of words."
    Immigration activists have protested Clinton throughout the campaign. For example, Juan Ramos from United We Dream Action, a DREAMer immigration group, got close to Clinton during a protest at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala in Washington, in October.
    Gutiérrez has also not always been supportive of Clinton's rhetoric on immigration. In a 2015 interview with the Huffington Post, the congressman said Clinton's views were "evolving" and noted how, in 2008, the then-senator struggled to answer questions about whether undocumented immigrants should have drivers' licenses.
    "Look, everybody's evolving," he said in an interview where he also praised Clinton. "I remember when Hillary, when the children first came to the border, and Hillary said, 'Oh they can't just show up, they have to be sent back home.' She's not there anymore. You remember when Hillary, what was it, in 2008? Yeah, it was 2008, and they asked Hillary a question about driver's licenses for the undocumented. And she was paralyzed."
    When thousands of children of Central Americans came to the United State's southern border in 2014, Clinton said the United States needs to "send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border doesn't mean your child gets to stay."
    "They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns whether all of them should be sent back," Clinton said. "But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families."
    America Rising, an anti-Clinton super PAC, plans to hit Clinton on this Monday when they release a video framing Gutiérrez's endorsement with these comments.