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Gutierrez gives Emanuel the shirt off his back

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U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Il.) earned his stripes as a national champion for immigration reform. But, he's also the kind of guy who'd give someone in need the shirt off his back. He's already done it--literally--for Rahm Emanuel.

At a swearing-in ceremony in the City Council chambers this week for 50 new American citizens, Emanuel told the story of how Gutierrez bailed him out with a fresh shirt on the day Emanuel was sworn in as a member of Congress.

"When you get sworn in, you get your first photo. I spilled coffee on my shirt. I had no shirt. But, I had to have a photo. Who do I call [who] has a 15-32 [shirt] size? So, my official congressional shot is shot in Luis Gutierrez shirt," the mayor recalled.

"When he came upstairs [to the mayor's office] before we came down here, he said, `I bought a new suit for today's event.' And I said, `Give me the coat because I know it's gonna fit.' We trade each other's clothes. That's what hand-me-downs are."

Gutierrez confirmed the shirt story, but said it wasn't exactly the shirt off his back. It was from a stash of fresh shirts that he keeps in his congressional office.

"I have to take fresh shirts to the Congress of the United States every week. You'll always find them [in my office]. You don't think I'm gonna wear this one tomorrow, [do you]? Hopefully not," he said.

After the shirt-lending incident, Gutierrez and Emanuel hit a rough patch. When Emanuel served as architect of the Democratic takeover of Congress, then, as President Barack Obama's chief-of-staff, Gutierrez accused Emanuel of being the roadblock to immigration reform.

That prompted Gutierrez to endorse Gery Chico for mayor over Emanuel.

But, the two old friends who once shared a shirt buried the hatchet after the 2011 mayoral election and have worked together ever since on a host of issues benefiting immigrants.


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