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First Elected Latina to Public Office in Maryland Campaigning for Re-Election

Maryland became Ana Sol Gutierrez’s home when her father, Jorge Sol Castellanos served as an official for the Organization of American States. An entity founded on the principles of solidarity and cooperation among the nations of the Americas. Gutierrez’s father taught her the value of political participation while her mother encouraged her to uphold her Latin American origins.

“Women and minorities need to stand and pursue political representation in government. We must work towards improving education, development, and justice. I brought a new voice to Maryland. I was the first Latina elected to Maryland’s General Assembly. I want to continue serving my home and working hard to ensure that the interests of hard working immigrants are considered when making state laws,” said State Delegate Gutierrez.

In 1990, Gutierrez was elected President of Montgomery County Board of Education. She became the first Salvadoran-American woman elected for public office in the United States. Gutierrez is now campaigning for a 4th term as State Delegate representing District 18 of Maryland. If re-elected, she would be the most senior legislator to serve in the House of Appropriations.

She is a chemist and computer systems engineer by profession with years of experience in both the public and private corporate sector. President Clinton appointed Gutierrez as the Deputy Administrator of Research and Special Programs for the U.S. Department of Transportation. She directed the agency’s research and oversaw major national transportation safety and emergency response programs.

Gutierrez earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University. She completed her graduate work in Scientific Technical Information Systems at American University. Gutierrez also holds a Master’s in Engineering from George Washington University. She remembers often being one of the few women and only Latina in her undergraduate and graduate classes. Gutierrez is a recognized leader and role model for women and minorities in the fields of science and technology.

She is a strong supporter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education initiatives. Committed and passionate Gutierrez states, “An achievement gap continues to exist in Maryland based on race and income. I must continue working on closing this educational gap. The achievement gap is leaving too many students with potential without hope for a better future. Our state must enable and encourage youth to excel and explore careers in promising fields. I believe in the great potential of Maryland.”

Gutierrez has led state initiatives that educated both citizen and non-citizen voters about civic participation. Maryland is one of the few states where documented non-citizen local residents can vote in municipal elections. Laws created by the state impact both citizen and non-citizen residents. Like citizens, non-citizen immigrants work in every sector of the economy, own businesses, pay taxes, and raise families. “I encourage the people of Maryland to vote. The inclusion of minority groups in local elections strengthens civic capacity and social cohesion. Immigrant communities too often experience human rights abuses, discrimination, and underrepresentation,” said Gutierrez.

Maryland ranks among the highest in the nation for removals of non-criminal immigrants. According to Department of Homeland Security, the federal program Secure Communities focuses its efforts on deporting immigrant criminals who pose a threat to national security and public safety.

More than 40% percent of immigrants deported from Maryland under the federal program of Secure Communities have no prior criminal record. This percentage puts Maryland among the top five in the nation for such deportations.

Four million children born in the United States have undocumented immigrant parents. Among the high number of deported immigrants in Maryland are fathers and mothers. U.S. citizen children of deported immigrants are left without one or two of their parents, and in many cases under care of the state’s broken foster care system.

“The presence of a father and mother is essential for a child’s well-being and future. If U.S. citizen children of deported immigrants leave their home, the United States they will not have the same opportunities. These children are the future of our country and state. The federal government has not enacted a comprehensive immigration reform. I cannot step down. Families are torn apart every day because of deportations. I will stand for these families in the Maryland State Assembly,” said Gutierrez State Delegate campaigning for re-election.

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About Karen Vanegas

Writer Karen Vanegas grew up in the District of Columbia and graduated from Mount Holyoke College. She majored in International Relations with a focus in Economic Development. Her interest for economics sparked while interning for The World Bank.  Karen worked for the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru and the D.C. Mayor’s Office. She has collaborated with the Hispanic College Fund in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, California. Karen mentors first-generation college students. She is a first-generation college graduate. Karen Vanegas is member of the Advisory Board for the D.C. Latino Caucus and a Policy Fellow for the YWCA, the largest women's advocacy association in the United States. You can contact her at vanegas.karen@gmail.com and follow her on twitter @ DCKarenV
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