(House of Representatives - October 03, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 158 (Tuesday, October 3, 2017)]
[Pages H7676-H7677]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                     PUERTO RICO, YOU ARE NOT ALONE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. GUTIERREZ. Madam Speaker, I just returned from Puerto Rico, and 
to start my remarks, I would like to say a few words in Spanish, the 
language of Puerto Rico, and then I will switch back to English.
  I will provide a translation to the desk.
  (English translation of the statement made in Spanish is as follows:)
  My beloved Puerto Rico, you are not alone. We hear your cries for 
help and the full strength of the American government and military is 
finally coming to help.
  It has been slow and no one has been as frustrated as I am that the 
response did not happen with the urgency and priority that Puerto 
Ricans--and every human being who is suffering--deserve.
  I tell my colleagues what I saw and what you told me while I was 
there. I will work with them immediately, and make sure that this 
Congress treats Puerto Rico fairly and generously.
  And I am not alone. The other Puerto Ricans and the Congressional 
Hispanic Caucus are working with the leadership of the House to put 
together an aid package.
  Cities and towns, Mayors and Governors from across the country are 
making their communities available to you so that you have a safe place 
to be while the rescue and recovery and rebuilding continues.
  And standing with the Mayor of Chicago just yesterday, he said he 
wants the City of Chicago to be a place where any and all Puerto Ricans 
who need a safe place can come and we will help you resettle.
  You are not alone.
  Mi amado Puerto Rico, no estas solo.
  Oimos tus peticiones de ayuda, y la fuerza del gobierno y milicia 
estadounidense finalmente vienen a ayudar.
  Ha sido despacio, y comparto tu frustracion sobre una respuesta que 
no se dio con la urgencia y prioridad que los Puertorriquenos--y 
cualquier ser humano que esta sufriendo--se merecen.
  Les digo a mis colegas lo que he visto, y lo que me has dicho cuando 
estuve ahi. Trabajare con ellos inmediatamente para asegurar que este 
Congreso trate a Puerto Rico justa y generosamente.
  Y no soy el unico. Otros Puertorriquenos, y el Caucus Hispano estan 
trabajando con el liderazgo de la Camara para conformar un programa de 
  Ciudades y pueblos, alcaldes y gobernadores a traves del pais, estan 
abriendote las puertas de sus comunidades para que tengas un lugar 
seguro mientras el rescate, la recuperacion y la reconstruccion 
  Y ayer, presente con el alcalde de Chicago, el me dijo que quiere que 
la ciudad de Chicago sea un lugar en el cual todo Puertorriqueno que 
necesite un lugar seguro pueda llegar y reestablecerse.
  Madam Speaker, I flew to Puerto Rico on Friday to see what was 
happening on the ground with my own eyes. Madam Speaker, it was worse 
than I imagined, and it broke my heart to see my beloved island so 
destroyed and so scared for its future and feeling so alone and 
  There were dead animals all over the place, and people were so 
desperate for food and water. Anyone who is sick or elderly is finding 
it hard or impossible to get medicine and medical care.
  Things are improving day by day, and the number of helicopters flying 
missions of mercy to the interior of the island is increasing. But 
almost everyone has no electrical power. Almost everyone has little or 
no food and trouble finding it. Almost everyone has no water, and some 
are seeking water from unreliable or possibly contaminated sources.
  At the same time, I also saw an amazing unity and toughness, a can-do 
spirit that my fellow Puerto Ricans have the ability to make a way 
where there is no way, to improvise, and, most importantly, to work 
  Any divisions of party or class that are right on the surface on a 
typical day in Puerto Rico, this faction versus that faction, all of 
that was blown away. The only status issue that matters for Puerto 
Ricans right now is the status of the SOS, save our souls. We need 
help, and plenty of it, now.
  Yesterday, I spoke at a press conference in Chicago with Mayor Rahm 
Emanuel and leaders from Chicago, including Fire Commissioner Santiago 
and the head of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Control, a 
brigadier general in our National Guard.
  The mayor announced that 22 Chicago firefighters, on their own dime, 
are going to Puerto Rico to help with the rescue and recovery efforts, 
including bringing equipment that may help communications to remote 
parts of the island.
  The mayor also announced that, in Chicago, we want to be for Puerto 
Rico what Houston was for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina--a place 
of refuge where we will help you get settled, get your kids into 
school, get you the medical care you need, and make you feel welcome.
  One thing I learned in Puerto Rico this weekend is that, in Chicago 
and in the rest of the U.S., we need to start thinking about evacuation 
in addition to rebuilding and recovery.
  I have welcomed my own family into my home, and people I know across 
the country are welcoming relatives escaping Puerto Rico and the Virgin 
Islands. But we need to wrap up our commitment beyond the family-to-
family informal relationships and look systematically at how we 
organize ourselves to meet the great need of our fellow citizens on the 
island in the Caribbean.
  Rebuilding Puerto Rico--making her a strong and self-sufficient 
island nation of industrious and hardworking people again--will take 
years and require a long-term commitment from this Congress and this 
country so that the well-being of our fellow man on the island can be 
  So, Madam Speaker, let's roll up our sleeves and get to work. Once 
again, Chicago is there to welcome you, to enroll your kids in school, 
to get you medical attention, and to make sure you have a safe place 
until the recovery and rebuilding has been accomplished.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Illinois will provide a 
translation of his remarks to the Clerk.

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