Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling the “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has separated children from their families at the U.S.-Mexican border “bad policy and heartbreaking” — joining a growing chorus of Republicans across the country who are demanding change.
And Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker blasted it as “heartbreaking, immoral and cruel.”
But while Pritzker focused his ire on Trump, calling it “Donald Trump’s policy of separating parents and children,” Rauner stopped short of blaming the policy on anyone.
The Republican governor’s three-sentence statement mentioned no federal officials by name — not Trump or any of his Cabinet officials nor any Democratic leaders.
President Donald Trump on Monday repeated his insistence that it’s all the Democrats’ fault.
“I say, very strongly, it’s the Democrats’ fault,” Trump said. “They’re really obstructionist.”
And Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen blamed “Congress and the courts,” while imploring Congress to “fix it.”
At a White House briefing Monday, Nielsen insisted the Administration is abiding by federal law, which prohibits them “from detaining families while they go through prosecution for illegally entering the border, and while they go through prosecutions for immigration proceedings … which means that we cannot detain families together.”
But many lawmakers say that’s baloney, that enforcement is at the discretion of the Administration.
Rauner is not pointing fingers at anyone.
His office on Monday would only say that Rauner wants to end illegal immigration but doesn’t support the controversial policy.
“Governor Rauner does not support this policy. He believes we need to secure our border and end illegal immigration,” Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold said in a statement on Monday. “But separating children from their parents is bad policy and heartbreaking. We can and should do better as a nation.”
But it wasn’t clear who Rauner wanted to do what.
Asked by the Sun-Times whether Rauner believes the policy is in place because of the Trump administration, or Democrats, as Trump has suggested, the governor’s office did not respond.
Rauner joins a growing chorus of GOP lawmakers speaking out about the policy. And it’s not the first time Rauner has taken a stand on immigration. Last year the governor signed the Illinois TRUST Act, which prohibits police offers and other law enforcement officials from stopping, detaining or arresting anyone based solely on their immigration status or an immigration detainer.
Meanwhile, Pritzker on Monday released an op-ed on Medium.com, saying there must be a “debate about real and meaningful immigration reform, but Donald Trump’s policy of separating immigrant families cannot be our starting point.”
“The path forward has to start with a recognition of the humanity in all of us,” Pritzker wrote. “It 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.”
In the post, which was blasted to Pritzker’s supporters Monday afternoon, the billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist implored Rauner “to stand with bipartisan leaders in Illinois to fight against this horrific policy.”