Former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert, now a K Street lobbyist, is gathering with several Chicago Republicans for a public event aimed at yet again building support in Washington for amnesty, Roll Call reports.
Hastert, now a lobbyist for Dickstein Shapiro, has been pushing comprehensive immigration reform for some time. In a February Politico op-ed, he endorsed the House GOP leadership immigration “principles” writing of illegal aliens that “we should provide them with a path to citizenship.”
Hastert is headlining an Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) conference at Chicago’s prestigious Chicago Club on Tuesday. IBIC is billing the event as a “roundtable before hundreds of immigrant business and technology company leaders to support common sense immigration reform.”
Hastert served for eight years from the late 1990s until the mid-2000s as Speaker of the U.S. House while representing Illinois’ 14th Congressional District as a Republican. When he resigned from Congress, a Democrat–Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), who served from 2008 until early 2011 before being elected again later in a different seat in which he currently serves–won his congressional district.
Roll Call’s Matt Fuller reports that Reps. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Aaron Schock (R-IL) will deliver video testimonials in support of amnesty for the event.
Other high-profile Chicago Republicans who will join Hastert’s and IBIC’s push for amnesty on Tuesday include former Illinois governors Jim Edgar and James Thompson and state comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
Two high-profile current elected GOP figures from Illinois are notably absent from the lineup as reported now: U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL)–the number four, as Chief Deputy Whip, in the current House GOP leadership team.
The event is being pushed by business interests in Illinois, notably billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s political advocacy firm FWD.us, various Chamber of Commerce chapters, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman and energy company Exelon chairman John Rowe–who is infamous in anti-amnesty circles for attacking American workers in a February 2013 Chicago television interview.
“Most of these jobs are in places where the existing unemployed either are unable to compete for them or don’t want to compete for them,” Rowe said then. “We need to find other ways to deal with that problem.”
When Republicans had rejected amnesty yet again last October, despite his donations to pro-amnesty GOP members of Congress like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Schock of Illinois. “It’s absolutely frustrating. It’s terribly concerning,” Rowe said of the conservative opposition to amnesty.