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Immigrant Advocates OK with Obama’s Choice

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Immigrant Advocates OK with Obama’s Choice

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez: ‘The chief of staff does not dictate public policy.’ (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)

Some immigrant advocates are avoiding criticism of the politician Barack Obama has chosen to be chief of staff. That’s despite Chicago Congressman Rahm Emanuel’s past friction with some who pushed for immigration reform. We report from our West Side bureau.

A bill that would have enabled some 12 million unauthorized U.S. residents to become citizens stalled last year amid opposition that crossed party lines.

That led Congressman Rahm Emanuel to label immigration reform the new third rail of American politics. As chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Emanuel warned fellow Democrats to focus on border enforcement.

Now President-Elect Obama has named Emanuel his chief of staff. And Chicago Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, who co-authored the reform bill, insists the appointment doesn’t bode ill for the cause.

GUTIERREZ: The job of the chief of staff is not Mr. Congeniality. It’s to get things done. The chief of staff does not dictate public policy. The president dictates public policy.

On the campaign trail, Obama said immigration reform would be an immediate priority. Obama’s team did not respond to our questions on the topic today.

I’m Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.

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