Sunday, January 31, 2010

Does Todd Stroger think the Latino vote will put him over the top on Tuesday?

That literally was the thought that popped into my head when I saw the release issued by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger Sunday night about immigration reform.

It seems the Cook County Board passed one of its many symbolic resolutions when they last met – this particular one says that the county officially thinks that people living in this country without a valid visa ought to be able to get the proper papers so they can live openly here.

IN SHORT, STROGER is putting himself on the side of people who want serious reform of the nation’s immigration laws. He’s putting himself against those whose idea of immigration reform amounts to an increase in the number of deportations from the United States.

Not that any of those ideologically conservative types would ever have voted for Stroger. There’s also the fact that Chicago is such an ethnic-oriented city (even the white people are usually fully aware of their ethnic origins) that a measure like this is not the least bit controversial.

In fact, I hadn’t seen any news coverage of the fact that the county board approved this measure – which means it probably got lost in the shuffle of all the more relevant activity that the county board did when they met Jan. 26. After all, it’s not like the Cook County Board has any real authority to pass anything into law that would affect the immigration status of anyone.

But now, Todd Stroger can make appeals to the Latino population – which in Chicago accounts for more than one-quarter of the city’s residents. Technically, this is county government making this appeal, not the Stroger campaign; although end end recipient is one and the same Todd.

STROGER IS USING the language usually used by politicos who want to appeal to the Latino voter – who perceive the immigration issue as evidence of how our growing ethnic numbers are perceived since we realize some people in this country don’t want to have to tell the difference between a Latino who was born in this country and one who was born elsewhere.

“These immigrants could contribute even more to our communities if they were given the opportunity to gain legal status, which would enable them to gain more productive jobs, earn more and pay more in taxes,” he said, in a prepared statement. “It would enable in particular immigrant youths to pursue education and serve our nation in the armed forces.”

Stroger can say he’s in full support of Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who late last year introduced a bill before Congress that would make significant changes in federal immigration law to make it possible for people without visas to get them (the very practice that the nativist element of our society likes to lambast as “amnesty”).

He may even envision having Gutierrez work to turn out some votes in the Puerto Rican neighborhoods northwest where the Congressman has some influence. Considering that the most recent Chicago Tribune poll showed county board President challenger Toni Preckwinkle leading among white voters and Dorothy Brown getting more support among black voters than any other candidate, does Stroger think the Latinos are going to go for him?

HE MAY, BUT that would be delusional, particularly since Gutierrez himself came out in support for the Preckwinkle campaign several weeks back. While I haven’t seen any specific polling of the Cook County Board president’s race broken down along racial or ethnic lines to specify the Latino vote, I wouldn’t be shocked if many are going along with Toni.

Her campaign seems to be the one that is putting together something resembling the biracial, progressive coalition that once put Harold Washington into the mayor’s office. If Stroger wins, I could easily envision the Latino populace being just as shocked as everybody else in this county who wants to count "the Toddler" out.


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