(Please welcome Josh Hoyt, who lives in Rahm Emanuel’s congressional district and heads the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights — jh)
Rahm Emanuel represents Chicago’s North Side, Illinois’ 5th CD, historically one of the premier immigrant destinations in the entire United States. Even today, the district has several large and vibrant immigrant populations. In fact, when Emanuel’s predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, was elected governor it was expected that the 5th would be re-districted out of existence — until the 2000 census showed huge population increases in the immigrant neighborhoods, saving the district, which the Daley Machine and the Clinton Administration gave to Emanuel as a reward for his work on passing NAFTA.
Even with a concerted attempt to put as many Hispanic neighborhood as possible into the 4th CD, almost a quarter of Emanuel’s constituents are Hispanic. The district also has a huge Polish population and a very large Korean population.
Emanuel likes to boast that as the son of an Israeli immigrant himself, he’s the best friend the immigrant community has ever had. And he may have policies that are amenable to immigrants — if you happen to be a right wing, pro-NAFTA war-hawk who wants to turn he border into a police state.
Others … not so much.
Two weeks ago he sent a DCCC-connected candidate training a video of himself haranguing congressional candidates to “move right” on immigration or risk defeat at the hands of Republicans. This is similar to the terrible advice he shoved down candidates’ throats last year, although then he was demanding they move to the right on Iraq, dooming the candidacies of Lois Murphy, Francine Busby, Ken Lucas, Tammy Duckworth, Diane Farrell and several others who went along with his demands. Yesterday Markos asked a blaring question at DailyKos: Is Rahm racist, or merely scared?. While walking the picket line at the WGA strike at Fox today Jane and I came up with the idea of inviting Emanuel over to FDL to ask him why he thinks adopting Tom Tancredo’s immigration ideas is a good idea and why he’s unleashed Heath Shuler to do just that.
Meet Josh Hoyt, someone whom both Pach and John Laesch said is the go-to guy for all things regarding immigrants rights in Illinois. Josh has been in the activist/organizing “business” for over 30 years, much of it in the immigrant communities. He’s known Emanuel since 1980 and more recently he’s been testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee and debating on both O’Reilly’s and Glenn Beck’s GOP propaganda shows. He runs the largest immigrants’ rights organization in Illinois (130 groups and organizations)– the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Last April ICIRR sponsored a townhall meeting with Emanuel and Luis Gutierrez on the issue of immigration that was attended by over 1,500 people — in Emanuel’s district. There were lots of Koreans and Muslims and Poles and Latino immigrants. “He got up,” Josh told me last night, “and said he was with us and he signed on as the lead co-sponsor of the Gutierrez STRIVE Act. He plays both sides of the issue. We had him for 5 minutes. When it became clear that this was a difficult issue — that it would take some political courage — he became a rubber chicken. The thing that we don’t like is that he runs around calling himself Rahmbo but he’s a coward when it comes to standing for progressive constituencies and progressive values… He’s completely two-faced.”
Blue America is working with several groups in Chicago to help hold Emanuel accountable. We don’t want to show our hand; just let me say that Jacquie has been busy, busy, busy doing her thing while writers write and designers design and vocalists vocalize. This looks like it will be the biggest Blue America campaign ever. And we have a $5,000 matching fund from a patriotic FDL community member who has asked to remain anonymous. She will match every dollar up ’til five grand donated this weekend to the Blue America PAC. Hint, but only a hint.
Update: If you’re a Kossack, please go recommend Pach’s diary.