Worth Discussing

Why Immigration Could Pass

Ronald Brownstein | National Journal | April 18, 2013

One way to measure the chasm that Congress must bridge to complete comprehensive immigration reform after years of stalemate is to consider the cultural, economic, and demographic distance between two restaurants.

One of them is El Faro, a popular Mexican place in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. On an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon late this winter, El Faro was buzzing, families filling every seat in the sun-splashed dining room. Three generations of the same family congregated at many of the tables, with children abounding. The restaurant ran through high chairs almost as fast as tortilla chips and marinated jalapenos. Waitresses carrying bistec a la Mexicana and costillitas en salsa verde squeezed through the happy tumult like surfers calmly riding a wave. Almost everyone in the room was Hispanic.

Sitting toward the back of the dining room was Luis Gutierrez, the area’s Democratic representative in the U.S. House. A former Chicago alderman, Gutierrez has been one of the most forceful voices on immigration since arriving in Congress in 1993. Fiery in front of a microphone, Gutierrez in person is slight and soft-spoken. But a visiting movie star would not have attracted more attention this day: A continuous procession of men and women, usually with children in tow, drifted to his table. Almost as soon as each visitor finished, another hesitantly approached.

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Filed under: Political Climate and Immigration