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State Senate urges Rauner to refuse any Trump National Guard border request

Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and President Donald Trump (right). File photos. | Sun-Times

President Donald Trump hasn’t asked Gov. Bruce Rauner to send Illinois National Guard soldiers to secure the U.S.- Mexico border, but the state Senate on Thursday preemptively passed a resolution urging the Republican governor to decline that request and put the state ahead of the president’s “political ambitions.”

The resolution — spearheaded by the Senate’s Latino Caucus — was introduced by state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, whose Mexican parents crossed the border in 1959. The resolution passed 33-22 in the Democratic-majority Senate.

“It’s a poor Band-Aid approach in place of immigration reform,” Sandoval said on the Senate floor of Trump’s April 4 proclamation to use the military to decrease illegal immigration and stop border crossings. Sandoval said it would be a “grave mistake” and an “unconscionable error,” to send the state’s National Guard to the border.

On April 5 aboard Air Force One, Trump said the National Guard members would number “anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000.” Asked about cost, the president said, “We’re looking at it, but, I mean, I have a pretty good idea. But it depends on what we do.”

“We must send the message to Gov. Rauner that we must keep the Illinois National Guard in Illinois, to protect the residents of Illinois, and not the Mexican border,” Sandoval said on Thursday.

Sandoval said the resolution’s intent was to urge Rauner to put the safety of the state “ahead of his political ambitions and the political ambitions of the Trump administration,” by not deploying the state’s National Guard to the border.

State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, called the resolution “premature,” considering Trump has not yet asked Rauner to deploy the Illinois National Guard. New Mexico, Texas and Arizona have pledged troops, and California this week said it would, as well.

But Rauner on Wednesday told reporters in Springfield he will honor the request should it be made.

“Frankly the president is the commander-in-chief of our military,” Rauner said, adding Illinois hasn’t been asked to send troops.