Once at Odds, Emanuel and Gutierrez United on Immigration Reform


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Luis Gutierrez seem to be in a very different place in their relationship than they were nearly two years ago.

At a City Hall ceremony Tuesday to welcome 50 Chicagoans as U.S. Citizens, Gutierrez lavished the mayor, a man who he'd previously blamed for delaying immigration reform, with praise.

And the mayor returned it.

"He has made clear, as he said, not just to bring people out of the shadows, but to raise all of our sights up to what is to be a true American ideal. You can see now post-the-presidential election that the rest of America has caught up with Luis Gutierrez. Thank you for blazing that path," the mayor said.

The two haven't always been so friendly. During Emanuel's run for Chicago's top executive, Gutierrez endorsed Gary Chico for the office, saying the Emanuel had been on the wrong side of immigration reform.

That icy tone, as Gutierrez told it, began to thaw almost immediately after Emanuel was elected mayor.

"The mayor and I sat down very early ... and I congratulated him. And he said, 'Luis, what kinds of things can we do together?' and he suggested to me that we begin the road to making Chicago the friendliest immigrant city in the nation," Gutierrez told the new residents, who represented 26 countries around the world.

Soon after being elected, Emanuel came out in support of the Illinois DREAM Act, a bill that would allow undocumented citizens a chance to obtain private scholarships to college. And within two months of his inauguration, Emanuel created a new office -- The Office of New Americans -- to help immigrants open small businesses.

Earlier this year, Gutierrez joined the mayor during an announcement of the "Welcoming City Ordinance," which prevents law-abiding Chicagoans from being unfairly detained and departed. It's part of Emanuel's quest to make Chicago "the most immigrant-friendly city in the country."

Both men said Tuesday that immigration reform at the national level was likely to happen soon.

“If you study politics, you can see how the sands have shifted. The winds have shifted their drift, said Emanuel. 

Tuesday's event was the second ceremony in City Hall's Council Chambers, and the mayor's office said citizenship swearing-in ceremonies there and other prominent locations around the city will be held on a regular basis.

Over the next three years, officials expect the Chicago New Americans Initiative to help 10,000 immigrants in Chicago become citizens.

Jan. 14, 2011: A day after Rahm Emanuel releases his Chicago DREAM proposal, more leaders pile on and say that the mayoral candidate's history doesn't match the image he's now putting forth.
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