Rahm Emanuel, a former aide to President Clinton and Obama’s pick for chief-of-staff, will come back to the White House with a failing record.
During his first year in Congress, the Federation for American Immigration Reform gave Cong. Emanuel (D-IL) a 0% rating – with the number reflecting the percentage of time that Emanuel voted FAIR’s preferred position. Other restrictionist organizations that track congressional votes have confirmed FAIR’s assessment that Emanuel is irredeemably liberal when it comes to immigration reform.
NumbersUSA, the organization that spearheaded the grassroots mobilization against the Senate’s 2007 immigration reform bill, gives Emanuel a failing lifetime position. He flunked the NumbersUSA test, receiving an “F” on his “immigration-reduction report card.” U.S. Border Control gave Cong. Emanuel an 8% rating, indicating his “open-border stance.”
In other words, Emanuel, picked to exert control over Obama’s team and its policy agenda, is about as bad as you can get. He has, after all, cosponsored the McCain-Kennedy reform proposal, voted no on building a border fence, and even cast a “no” vote on a bill that would require hospitals to notify immigration agents when treating illegal immigrants.
But immigration restrictionists aren’t particularly worried. That’s because Emanuel, after the drubbing that immigration reform received in mid-2007, let it be known that the Democratic leadership in Congress wouldn’t be pushing comprehensive reform in 2008 or even in the first term of the next administration.
Calling immigration the “third rail” of American politics, Emanuel began backing away from comprehensive reform in 2007, even as he continued to oppose overly restrictive immigration and border bills.
Emanuel has come under fire from Latino columnist Ruben Navarrette for keeping immigration reform off the table this year. “House Democrats, under orders from Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., kept the controversial issue off the legislative agenda in 2008. Why? Organized labor. Democrats' slavish adherence to unions required that they derail any proposal that includes guest workers, as any bill with a chance to win Republican support would have to do,” wrote Navarrette. At the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza, Juan Salgado, board chairman of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, shocked participant, stating: "Congressman Rahm Emanuel said to me two weeks ago, there is no way this legislation is happening in the Democratic House, in the Democratic Senate, in the Democratic presidency, in the first term.” Emanuel’s office confirmed the congressman’s position. Emanuel’s spokesman Nick Pappas told the Washington Times: “Congressman Emanuel has worked hard to make comprehensive reform a reality and that work continues. However, President Bush and congressional Republicans’ failure on this critical matter has set back efforts to enact real reform.”
In turn, Salgrado said, “I was caught off-guard by the statement. I interpret his comments as a lack of courage on what they know is right. Listen, we’re here at the NCLR conference, and what it’s to take is not the attitude of Rahm Emanuel, if this is a second-term issue. What it’s going to take is boldness by the president.”