Published in
The Empire

Surrounded by Allies, Rangel Soaks Up the Praise

A week after President Barack Obama announced his administration's policy shift on immigration, politicians and community leaders surrounded Congressman Charlie Rangel to praise his work on immigration reform.

"We are indebted to the leadership of Charlie Rangel and to his commitment to a vulnerable community," said Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez in Spanish as he stood alongside Rangel.

Gutierrez also said that the thousands of young illegal immigrants who will soon apply for work permits as a result of the Obama administration's executive action shouldn't forget Rangel's work on the DREAM Act.

"I want to make absolutely clear that they can say thank you to a broad coalition, but they can also give a word of thanks to Charlie Rangel," he said.

A member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Gutierrez was joined by Missouri Congressman and Congressional Black Caucus leader Emmanuel Cleaver. Cleaver made sure to point out that Rangel's leadership on the DREAM Act helped secure its unanimous support from the Congressional Black Caucus.

"There is only person who can walk into a room in Washington D.C., get the respect of everybody -- no matter who is in the room," Cleaver said. "It is Charlie Rangel."

Rangel, who is in the middle of a five-way race for his Congressional seat, thanked the leaders in attendance -- including Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito and Congresswomen Yvette Clarke and Carolyn Maloney. 

"None of this would have happened unless I was challenged," Rangel joked.

Rangel also had some words for one of his leading campaign rivals, never mentioning State Senator Adriano Espaillat by name. Espaillat has come under fire for allegedly planning to run for both Congress and a second term in the State Senate -- a charge Espaillat denies.

"I checked it out," Rangel said. "It's legal to do it. What is not moral is to tell people you're running for one job and then run for two jobs."

Capital New York's Azi Paybarah caught up with Rangel after the event. Rangel blasts the New York Times editorial board's endorsement process.