Illinois politicians on both sides of the partisan divide say they are looking for a solution to the situation where U.S. officials are separating children from their parents at the Mexican border, though Democrats are pointed in their criticism of President Donald Trump's administration.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner does not support the policy, spokeswoman Rachel Bold said.
"He believes we need to secure our border and end illegal immigration," Bold added. "But separating children from their parents is bad policy and heartbreaking. We can and should do better as a nation. ... The bottom line is we need a solution and it seems as if that is already underway in Washington. Congress and the administration have to come together to fix this."
In a post on Medium.com, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker said there has been "deeply bigoted and racist rhetoric from our own president" about immigrant families crossing the border.
"These are parents and children coming to this country seeking refuge and a better life," Pritzker said. "They come fleeing war, poverty, and injustice, carrying their hopes and their dreams."
And while a debate about immigration reform is needed, Pritzker said, a path forward "has to start with the understanding that children should never be kept in cages and families should never be torn apart. What is happening now is heartbreaking, immoral, and cruel -- and it cannot stand. We cannot let it stand."
- U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, of Hoffman Estates, in a statement: "Separating families to inflict trauma on children and parents seeking asylum in America is wrong, plain and simple. No one is forcing the Trump Administration's hand here. Donald Trump, Attorney General (Jeff) Sessions and (Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen are making a conscious and completely unnecessary decision to rip children from their families under the guise of 'strong law enforcement' and lying to the American people about it. There is nothing strong about tearing families apart--it is inhumane, it is morally bankrupt and it goes against the values of this country."
- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, of Springfield, speaking in the capital city on Friday: Trump is "just plain wrong" when he says the "this is a Democratic law we're following.
"What's happening here is outrageous. To think that they would take a child out of the arms of her mother and take that child away while the mother and child are screaming is not a fiction or fake news. ... To think that family separation is now the guiding principle of our government is disgraceful. ... I think the American people overwhelmingly reject Attorney General Sessions' attempt to have zero tolerance at the expense of little children."
- U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, whose 13th Congressional District includes part of Springfield: "The Department of Justice should make every effort to keep children with their parents. The House will consider, as early as this week, legislation to help address the separation of children, increase border security, protect DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, and fix other areas within our broken immigration system. It's important for both sides to leave politics and hyperbole out of this if we are going to solve this issue. We cannot ignore the fact that many children coming over may not be with adults who are their parents. Trafficking of children along our borders is a very real and serious concern. Immigrants seeking asylum should come to official ports of entry instead of attempting to cross the border illegally."
- Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield, Davis' opponent in the November election, in a statement: "The appalling tearing apart of families has nothing to do with the very real needs to secure our border and fix our immigration system and could be immediately brought to an end if people like Congressman Davis had the courage to stand up to the leaders in their own party and demand it. ... Congressman Davis has had years to address these problems and years to work toward meaningful solutions but has consciously chosen to focus his attention elsewhere. It would be far easier to make the needed changes happen if he would work across the aisle rather than constantly play the blame game."
- U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, in a statement: "The news coming from our border is heartbreaking, and further emphasizes the need for comprehensive, bipartisan reforms to our immigration policies. Those who break the law, including entering our country illegally, are subject to arrest, but a recent court ruling determined that in these situations minors may not be detained with the guardians while they are awaiting prosecution. This court ruling is why Congress must act to clarify the law. I have been vocal about fixing problems and loopholes such as this since I first arrived in Congress, and I look forward to the House finally debating an immigration bill this week. The sooner we can come to a bipartisan solution to secure our border and improve our legal immigration process, the sooner we can reunite these families and help those looking to immigrate legally make a better life for their families."
LaHood's office said that in 2014, DHS increased detention facilities for arriving alien families and held families pending the outcome of immigration proceedings. However, a federal judge ruled in 2015 that under the Flores Settlement Agreement, minors detained as part of a family unit cannot be detained in unlicensed facilities for longer than a presumptively reasonable period of 20 days, at which point, such minors must be released or transferred to a licensed facility. Because most jurisdictions do not offer licensure for family residential centers, DHS rarely holds family units for longer than 20 days. The judge's ruling made it much more difficult for the federal government to use the detention authorities Congress gave it.
- Junius Rodriguez of Eureka, LaHood's Democratic opponent this fall in the 18th Congressional District, which also includes part of Springfield: "They're trying to make it sound like something where this particular action needs a legislative fix. The truth of the matter is Donald Trump created this policy and could undo this policy today. ... What really boggles the mind to me is those members of Congress who are willing to give cover to an administration that implemented a policy that was certainly not in line in keeping with the values of the United States."
- State Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, the Democratic candidate for attorney general: "Listen to the children's cries as agents crack jokes and tell me this is what America should sound like," he said, referring to audio tapes released this week by ProPublica of children being separated from their parents at the border. "Listen to their fear and their sobbing pleas, and tell me how this is making us safer. This is almost too painful for me as a father to bear, but we can't look away. We have a responsibility to stand up and declare firmly: This is wrong. This is not who we are, and it must stop.
"As the son of Haitian immigrants, I keenly understand how our identity as a nation has been shaped by how we treat those who come to our borders," Raoul said. "And as attorney general, I'll do everything I can to fight Trump's harmful policies. These children's cries only sharpen my resolve."
- Erika Harold of Urbana, the Republican candidate for attorney general: "This policy of separating children from their parents is unconscionable and must end immediately. This is the result of our broken political culture in Washington and there needs to be a holistic reform of our broken immigration system now."