When Barack Obama appointed Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff this past January, many of us in the immigrant rights movement groaned in disappointment. Rahm, a notoriously shrewd political strategist, helped to block immigration reform in ’07, seeing it as a political liablity for the democratic party.
Well, guess what? Under Obama, Rahm is changing his tune. From the Wall Street Journal:
“It doesn’t matter what Rahm thinks,” he said in an interview. “It matters what President Obama thinks.”
With yesterday’s announcement that Obama plans to move on immigration reform in 2009, Rahm’s support is a fundamental next step in pushing forward. Seeing the support from New American and Latino voters, its clear that politically speaking, immigration reform is a promise the Obama administration must keep.
Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, spoke about Emanuel’s change of heart:
There’s no more brilliant political strategist than Rahm,” Ms. Murguia said. “He was shrewdly trying to lay out vehicles that would provide Democrats cover on this issue.”
Ms. Murguia said she began to see a change in Mr. Emanuel’s thinking about a year ago, when he approached her to begin strategizing on immigration in the event a Democrat was elected president in 2008. After Mr. Emanuel was named Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in November, they spoke again, and Mr. Emanuel said he had read the numbers and seen the impact of the Latino vote.
While I firmly believe that, politics aside, immigration reform is both the moral and sensible thing to do, it doesn’t hurt the cause to have a hard-hitter like Emanuel in our corner.
We just continue to gain momentum in this fight and we are nowhere close to done.