Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday morning at Trump Tower in New York City and delivered a letter from mayors across the country calling for protections for young immigrants.
Emanuel said after the meeting he had a "very good meeting" with Trump, his incoming chief of staff and senior adviser and also discussed transportation, investment in infrastructure and job creation.
"I was clear about where I stood on immigrants, that we welcome them because they are achieving and striving to the American Dream," Emanuel said. "But, also then, how to make, as a city and as a country, key investments in both the talent, the training, as well as the transportation to drive economic growth."
Emanuel, along with mayors from New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia and other cities, warned the incoming Trump Administration about the economic impact eliminating the program would have. They cited the potential loss of $9.9 billion in tax contributions over the next four years. Emanuel hand-delivered the letter to the president-elect Wednesday.
Trump reportedly called Emanuel, who worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations, following the November election to discuss the ongoing presidential transition process. According to the mayor, Trump asked for an in-person meeting during that call.
Since Trump was elected, Emanuel has been preparing for a clash over Chicago’s sanctuary city status. Over the course of Trump's campaign, the president-elect promised to deport as many as 3 million immigrants who have a criminal record or are living in the country illegally. Additionally, the billionaire also pledged to cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities.
During a Trump transition press conference Monday, spokesman Jason Miller explained that the real estate magnate who was elected commander-in-chief “has been very direct in where he stands with regard to sanctuary cities, and I expect to see significant action on that front after he is sworn in,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
As a result, Mayor Emanuel and a group of 14 mayors from across the country signed a letter to Trump Wednesday urging him to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program until Congress modernizes the country's immigration system and provides "a more permanent form of relief for the close to one million young people who were brought to the United States before they were 16," according to a release.
Following the meeting, Emanuel pushed to protect DREAMers, a designation given to undocumented young people protected under executive orders signed by President Barack Obama in 2012.
"We are clear as mayors that these are DREAMers who are seeking the American Dream and we should embrace them rather than do a bait-and-switch," Emanuel told reporters. "I also spoke out strongly about what it means to be a sanctuary city, where we support and secure the people that are here, like my grandfather who came to the city of Chicago as a 13-year-old 100 years ago."
The mayor added, "Chicago was a sanctuary city for my grandfather. His grandson today is the mayor of this city, which is a testament to the strength of the values and the ideals of being America."
In an interview with Time released Wednesday, wherein Trump was named the magazine's Person of the Year, the president-elect seemed to soften on his immigration stance, despite continuing to push for a border wall.
"I want DREAMers for our children also," Trump said. "We're going to work something out. On a humanitarian basis it's a very tough situation. We're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud. But that's a very tough situation."
Emanuel has recently taken a series of steps to protect Chicago's immigrants, including sponsoring a resolution that calls on Gov. Bruce Rauner to publicly support his efforts to promote Chicago as a sanctuary city for immigrants. The measure reaffirms the 2012 Welcoming City ordinance that cements Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city.
Additionally, Emanuel joined Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Luis Gutierrez Tuesday in launching a new "Chicago is With You" task force, which is collaborating on mental health, legal services, employer communications, and education polices to ensure the city of Chicago is delivering comprehensive services to immigrants, refugees and other disenfranchised communities.
Emanuel's meeting with Trump comes just days after Chicago city workers removed the remaining honorary "Trump Plaza" street signs near the president-elect's riverfront hotel and condominium tower. Emanuel and a group of aldermen led the effort to remove the signs as a response to Trump's divisive campaign rhetoric and comments about the city's violence.
Trump also met with Emanuel’s brother, Ari Emanuel, at his New Jersey golf course last month, CNN reported. During the meeting, Trump referred to Emanuel, who is the co-CEO of the powerful WME-IMG talent agency, as "the king of Hollywood."
Emanuel is reportedly not seeking a role in Trump’s administration, but attended the meeting to "discuss some concerns he had," although details remain scarce. Following the meeting, Trump referred to Emanuel as a "great friend."
Emanuel represented Trump in some negotiations with NBC over his reality television show "The Celebrity Apprentice," CNN reported. However, WME-IMG, which bought Trump’s ownership stake in the Miss Universe Pageant in 2015, said it no longer represents Trump.