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Why Luis Guitierrez's Trip to the White House Helps Him and Rahm in Chicago

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Why Luis Guitierrez's Trip to the White House Helps Him and Rahm in Chicago

Luis Gutierrez’s trip to the White House to discuss immigration reform could end up helping two mayoral campaigns: his own, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s.

Gutierrez and two other prominent Latino lawmakers -- Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.) -- are meeting with President Obama this afternoon to discuss the DREAM Act. The Act would provide Green Cards for children of illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, have lived here for 5 years, and have graduated from high school.

“We are taking steps this week to reenergize and refocus the immigration debate and our meeting with the President is part of that effort,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “The nation needs immigration reform as soon as possible and Members of Congress are locking arms with the White House to make sure all of our advocacy efforts are pointed in the same direction… I’m looking forward to a productive meeting with the President tomorrow and to his speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s dinner tonight because we all share the goal of a fair, legal, and orderly immigration system and keeping families together.”

Gutierrez has already jumped into the mayor’s race, collecting petition signatures at last Sunday’s Mexican Independence Day Parade in Little Village. Emanuel is in the “mulling” category, but if he runs, he’ll have to mend fences with the Latino community, which blames him for not pushing Obama hard enough on immigration reform. The Latino may be decisive in an April mayoral run-off. That’s why Emanuel would be wise to attend the meeting, too, according to Huffpost Hill:

If Rahm Emanuel shows up, two potential Chicago mayoral candidates will be in the room together. Gutierrez, who said today that a run is “tempting,” said he’d have a hard time supporting Emanuel if he doesn’t, given his history of slowing down immigration reform. He still remembers, Gutierrez said, when Emanuel, as head of the DCCC, was telling Democrats to vote for a draconian Republican immigration bill in 2006. But if he helps make the DREAM Act a reality, all could be forgiven. “I would be very indebted and grateful to Rahm,” he said, adding that so would the Latino community.

Caught in the middle of this rivalry is Obama, who last week said Emanuel would make an “excellent” mayor. We all know the Chicago mayor’s race is the most important election in Illinois now. This afternoon, at least, it’ll be the most important election in the entire United States.

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