As Bloomington-Normal debates whether to enact a Welcoming City ordinance, former Gov. Pat Quinn said there should be a bright line between local police and federal immigration officers.
Quinn, who is running for Illinois attorney general, visited Illinois State University on Thursday on his way to a candidate forum in Champaign-Urbana. He was asked about local discussions over Welcoming City ordinances, which limit cooperation between local police officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Bloomington and Normal city leaders are considering enacting local ordinances.
Quinn touted his record as governor on protecting undocumented immigrants. He noted that he signed laws allowing scholarships for the children of immigrants, also known as Dreamers, as well as driver’s licenses for the undocumented. Quinn also said he was the first U.S. governor to push back in 2011 against an Obama-era federal program called Secure Communities, which collected and shared information about a person’s immigration status when they’re fingerprinted in a local jail.
“I don’t think our local law enforcement should do anything other than their job. We’re not doing the job of the federal government. I think they should do their own job,” Quinn said.
Quinn, a Democrat from Chicago, also said he’d aggressively push back against the Trump administration when its policies brush up against Illinois values or state law. Attorneys general in states like California and New York have fought the Trump administration in court on issues like immigration and energy policy, similar to the opposition Obama faced from Republican state attorneys general.
Quinn said he was troubled by Trump’s record on health care, the environment, and freedom of the press.
“Trump has really threatened some of the foundation principles of our American democracy. And what’s happening all over the country is that state attorneys general are the last line of defense for American democracy,” Quinn said.
Quinn also expressed a willingness to pursue more public corruption cases through the Illinois attorney general’s office. During Democrat Lisa Madigan’s tenure as attorney general, most of the high-profile corruption cases have been brought by federal prosecutors. (Madigan is not seeking re-election.)
Quinn said he’s not afraid to confront other elected officials. He recalled his work on a legislative pay issue that upset some state lawmakers; Quinn said he was once booed during a trip to the Statehouse.
“I’m not afraid to do that. If I get booed again, so be it,” Quinn said.
Other Democrats running in the March 20 primary are Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, attorney Jesse Ruiz, state Rep. Scott Drury, former federal prosecutor Sharon Fairley, attorney Aaron Goldstein, state Sen. Kwame Raoul, and attorney Renato Mariotti.
On the Republican side, attorney Erika Harold will face Gary Grasso, a DuPage County Board member and former mayor of Burr Ridge.
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