Rahm Reverses Course on Immigration
As a major force behind the Democrats' takeover of Congress in the 2006 elections, Rep. Rahm Emanuel was seen as stalling House consideration of immigration reform for fear of a backlash against Democratic candidates.
But now as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, "Emanuel is removing roadblocks that stand in the way of some of the legislative agenda benefitting immigration, ethnic minorities and their advocates," Politico.com reported.
Frank Sharry, head of America’s Voice — an organization working for immigration reform, including earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants — told Politico: "Emanuel is a symbol of going from running away from immigration to someone who now says, 'Lean into immigration. It will help Democrats.'"
Emanuel recently engineered increased benefits for legal immigrant children and pregnant women in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Emanuel warned key senators that the bill would not be signed without those benefits.
Emanuel also promised Hispanic and black legislators that the Obama administration would have the next Census director report to White House staffers as well as to the Commerce secretary on the 2010 count, which will determine future political representation and the allocation of federal funds. The Bureau is legally under the control of the Commerce Department.
"On both issues, Emanuel showed an appreciation for the high Hispanic voter turnout and support for Democrats in 2008," Politico observed.
Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Missouri Democrat who oversees the House subcommittee on the Census, said: "I do welcome the president’s and Rahm’s and the entire White House team’s involvement" in the 2010 Census.
But Republicans have expressed concern that the White House will bring politics into the Census.
"They are going to move it from Commerce and from the Census Bureau and put it into the White House, and you will have politics come back into the process, when the Census Bureau has worked for decades to rid itself of political influence," Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, told Newsmax.
"I just find that so very unfortunate and I’m tremendously disappointed and very very concerned about this happening."
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