Washington Prowler

Rahm Emanuel’s New Voters

A warning to Republicans about the immigration bill. Also: Mitt moves right from the beginning. Plus: McCain's energy level.

By 6.4.07

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MEISSNER'S SHOP
In his capacity as a senior White House official in the Clinton administration, now-Rep. Rahm Emanuel actively participated in putting together a strategy to fast-track legal and illegal immigrants through any means possible for citizenship so that they could vote for the Democratic Party. This, according to a scathing, but long-forgotten report out of the Department of Justice.

As debate rages about Democratic intentions on the immigration legislation, it would be useful for all to turn to a July 2000 Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General report entitled "An Investigation of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Citizenship USA Initiative."

The report was an indictment not only of Clinton White House interference in the Immigration and Naturalization process, but also of White House interference in the INS's Citizenship USA (CUSA) initiative of 1996.

CUSA outsourced some INS citizenship requirement programs (English language testing, for example), and was designed to speed up citizenship opportunities so that newly minted citizens could vote for the Democratic Party, if not in 1996, then in 1998 and 2000.

According to the report:

Beginning in 1993, the demand for naturalization began to increase at a staggering rate and application backlogs developed at INS offices throughout the country. By June 1995, INS was receiving applications for naturalization at a rate twice as high as it had the previous year. INS projected that without a serious effort to reduce this application backlog, by the summer of 1996 an eligible applicant would have to wait three years from the date of application to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen.

On August 31, 1995, INS Commissioner Doris M. Meissner announced "Citizenship USA" (CUSA), an initiative to reduce the backlog of pending naturalization applications to the point where an eligible applicant would be naturalized within six months of application. The goal of the initiative was to reach this level of processing "currency" within one year. The effort focused on the workload in the five districts in the country -- dubbed "Key Cities" for CUSA -- which then had the largest application backlogs: Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago. To reach the CUSA goal, INS dramatically increased its naturalization workforce in the Key Cities, opened new offices dedicated to naturalization adjudication, and engaged new processing strategies in an effort to "streamline" the naturalization process.


Meissner drew the White House into the mix via a working group she co-chaired with Carol Rasco, the President's Domestic Policy Advisor, according to the report. "This working group, under the aegis of the Domestic Policy Council (DPC), coordinated the Clinton Administration's immigration policy and was the venue for most of the contacts between the White House and INS during the Clinton Administration's first term."

According to the report, "Director of Special Projects Rahm Emanuel often attended these meetings. According to witnesses at INS and the Department of Justice, Emanuel was increasingly responsible at the White House for issues involving the Department of Justice." The report added that Emanuel's interest in DOJ was "enforcement" issues.

"This report lays out in stark details exactly what Emanuel and the rest of the Democrats are trying to do with immigration reform, and President Bush and Sen. John McCain are playing right into their hands," says a Republican House member, who does not support the President's position. "People should read this report and understand exactly what this fight is all about."

MITT AND PAT
If former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suddenly sounds tougher and pithier on immigration issues, thank pundit and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan for it. According to Romney insiders, the man who has flip-flopped on immigration sat down privately with Buchanan late last week to discuss the issue. The meeting came at the same time that Romney also sat down with at least one high-profile conservative syndicated columnist for an off the record discussion.

Other Romney campaign staff would not confirm that the Buchanan meeting took place. Several denied that Romney would ever meet with Buchanan. "Given his relationship with the Republican Party, he's not necessarily the kind of influencer we'd be looking for," sniffed a Romney aide in Massachusetts.

Another said, "If the governor met with Pat, it would have been informal, and about a lot of things, not just immigration, though Pat has a very good handle on how to talk about it, especially with conservatives and libertarians."

A longtime Buchanan friend added, "If anyone can make a person feel certain about where you stand on an issue, it's Pat."

HOW MUCH LONGER?
As the campaign of Sen. John McCain continues to shed staff, there is talk inside Republican circles that the man who has been out on the trail the longest may not last the summer.

But McCain insiders say that the man from Arizona has been working donors hard, making calls to large fundraisers and keeping his energy level up on the trail.

"He's not going anywhere," says a McCain insider. "We're not getting leaner, we're getting the right people into the right jobs."

Recently the campaign fired two of its evangelical outreach coordinators, as well as a state coordinator in South Carolina, a state in which McCain has worked particularly hard to build support.

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