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Rauner says he asked White House and Congress to end ‘bad policy’ at border

Gov. Bruce Rauner announcing corporate sponsorship of the Discovery Partners Institute. Photo by Tina Sfondeles.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday said he has reached out to both the White House and to Illinois’ congressional delegation to end the “bad policy” of separating children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border.

“We’ve been in communication with the White House. We’ve been in communication with members of Congress,” Rauner said at an event announcing a university partnership and a $500 million corporate sponsor for the proposed Discovery Partners Institute in the South Loop.

Rauner, too, reiterated that he believes the zero-tolerance immigration policy is “bad policy,” “wrong,” “heartbreaking” and “not the moral thing to do.”

He did not specify who is to blame for the policy, or name President Donald Trump or any congressional leaders in his answers to questions.

Asked about the communications with the federal government — whom Rauner spoke with and what he requested — the governor’s office released a statement saying there is “constant communication with our congressional delegation and the White House.”

“By maintaining these relationships we are able to discuss important issues, like ending this bad policy,” Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold said in a statement.

In April, Rauner was asked if he would send Illinois National Guard soldiers to the border if Trump requested them. The governor’s office on Tuesday did not specify if Rauner still supports that position, instead noting that the state hasn’t been asked to send troops to the border.

Asked by reporters, Rauner said he was “not giving that [sending troops] any thought whatsoever.”

The governor’s office in its statement said “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,” Bold said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker has sought to put public pressure on Rauner to “fight against this horrific policy.” And on Tuesday, the Pritzker campaign launched Facebook ads imploring users to call Rauner’s office to encourage him to rescind his position of sending National Guard troops if called upon.

Rauner’s short question-and-answer session with reporters on Tuesday afternoon was disrupted by a protester who said her husband was deported six years ago. She said she wants Rauner to help her husband come home to her five children and also to pardon another man, Miguel Perez Jr.

Rauner in February announced he wouldn’t grant clemency to Perez Jr., a green card holder and U.S. Army veteran who was taken into custody by ICE after serving prison time for a drug charge.

“It’s not appropriate to go into detail on reason for a decision, but we take every review of clemency and pardon very seriously,” Rauner told WLS in February. “We made the decision not to grant it in that case.”

The protester demanded to be heard on Tuesday.

“You have done nothing. You deported our veteran, Miguel Perez, Jr.,” said Cecilia Garcia, an activist in support of family reunification whose own husband was deported.

“No let me talk, let me talk,” Garcia told Deputy Governor Leslie Munger as Rauner left the site. “He’s my governor he works for me. I voted. He votes for me. So I want him to hear.”