Emanuel, Gutierrez: Chicago Will Lead upon Executive Amnesty Announcement
On Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) met with more than 50 pro-amnesty leaders in Chicago to prepare for President Barack Obama's executive amnesty that could give work permits to five million illegal immigrants.
Gutierrez said that Chicago "voices have been among the loudest calling for immigration reform" and will "be a leader when it comes to implementing administrative action."
“I told the President he should be as bold and generous in providing deportation relief as the Republicans have been mean spirited and small minded in blocking immigration reform in Congress,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “When an announcement comes, we will make sure Chicago is ready, that the community institutions in our neighborhoods are ready, and that we can efficiently inform our community about what is being announced and can help our neighbors sign up.”
Emanuel, who used to be President Obama's chief of staff, faces a tough reelection battle in 2015, as his approval ratings have been plummeting. Knowing that he may need to win Hispanics by a huge margin, Emanuel recently named Gutierrez, with whom he has had a history of animosity, as a co-chairman of his reelection campaign.
“We value the voices of these important leaders and we have a landmark opportunity to set an example and lead the nation on this issue," Emanuel said in a statement after the meeting that lasted more than an hour.
Gutierrez noted that Chicago is already "a leader on immigration issues and when the President makes his announcement, whatever the specifics, Chicago will be ready to lead again. He added that the country needs "to address the toll that deportations have taken and start the healing process in communities across the city and across the nation."
Earlier this week, Gutierrez conceded that it would be "unprecedented" if Obama gives temporary amnesty to five million illegal immigrants. He called it "music to my ears" and acknowledged that pro-amnesty groups were not prepared when Obama enacted his first executive amnesty. Since millions more may be able to qualify if Obama does enact his next amnesty, Gutierrez has been urging groups in all communities to start laying the groundwork now to identify and assist those who could qualify for temporary amnesty.
Gutierrez and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have asked for Obama to be as "broad and generous," and they even gave Obama a wish list asking for amnesty for everyone who would have qualified under the Senate's amnesty bill. Last month, Gutierrez assured La Raza that Obama promised him he would take steps to "stop the deportation of our people."