CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel this Independence Day is challenging House Republicans to take up the immigration issue and pass a federal law that sets a clear path to citizenship.
Speaking one-on-one Wednesday with WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts following naturalization ceremonies at the Cultural Center for 67 new U.S. citizens, Emanuel said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s decision to change his vote, and support the immigration bill approved in the Senate gives “cover” to any Illinois House Republicans who choose to do likewise. And he said doing so makes economic sense.
Many mayors and governors complain about the costs of serving the undocumented, including the costs of education, medical care and even the issuing of drivers licenses. Emanuel said the benefits far outweigh the costs, and said it’s true whether you’re talking about Chicago or Phoenix.
“Literally, in the city of Chicago, which is true all over the United States, half the new small businesses are started by immigrants,” he said. “You cannot be pro-small business, and with the importance small businesses mean to our economy — job creation and the vibrancy of who we are — and be anti-immigrant.”
Emanuel said the two-mile 26th Street shopping district in the heavily-Hispanic southwest side Little Village neighborhood now generates more sales tax revenue than any shopping district in Chicago or Illinois with the exception of the Magnificent Mile. And unlike North Michigan Avenue, Emanuel said, virtually all of the businesses on the Little Village shopping strip are mom-and-pop, immigrant-owned businesses.
“When anybody says, ‘Oh, the cost,’ I don’t know,” Emanuel said. “We make a lot of money. And that’s true also in Tucson. It’s also true in Phoenix. People from all over come to shop. They produce a huge amount of business and economic activity. So it (the claim that the undocumented are a drain on tax coffers) is just not true.”