Rauner Suggests He’d Support Bill That Protects Undocumented Immigrants

Bruce Rauner in the WBEZ studios August 2017
Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks on WBEZ's 'Morning Shift.' Andrew Gill / WBEZ
Bruce Rauner in the WBEZ studios August 2017
Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks on WBEZ's 'Morning Shift.' Andrew Gill / WBEZ

Rauner Suggests He’d Support Bill That Protects Undocumented Immigrants

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday strongly suggested that he would support a bill intended to reassure undocumented immigrants that they won’t be detained or arrested based on their legal status — a move that would further distance himself from President Donald Trump.

The Republican governor made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia. Rauner, fresh off a GOP election rally at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, also repeatedly returned to his familiar campaign talking points against his political nemesis, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“[Madigan’s] lock on the system — his control of the system — I’m the one person standing and fighting against that,” Rauner said during a conversation with Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia.

Steve Brown, a spokesman for Madigan, responded later Friday by saying voters and members of Rauner’s own party are rejecting the governor’s message.

“Rauner is a guy who is trying to wreck the lives of working class families,” Brown said. “I can’t say it any more simply.”

Here are a few more excerpts from the interview:

On immigration policy in Illinois

Tony Sarabia: Where are you on the Trust Act here in Illinois? Immigration advocates have fought for this bill, which “provides that absent a judicial warrant or probable cause of criminal activity, a government official shall not make arrests” in a number of state-sponsored facilities including schools, healthcare facilities and courtrooms.

Bruce Rauner: We’re going to be making an announcement about that in the next couple of days. I’m very excited. This bill started off in a very different place — it was over 40 pages, very complicated. It’s down to two pages —

Sarabia: So which way are you leaning?

Rauner: I’ll tell you, it’s now very straightforward. It was negotiated by law enforcement, the [Illinois] Sheriff’s Association. It’s supported by law enforcement, it’s supported by the business community, it’s supported by the immigration community. I think it seems very reasonable. … It does not tie law enforcement’s hands. It actually encourages between local law enforcement and federal immigration facilities. … It seems very reasonable.

On the statement from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggesting Chicago violence is related to illegal immigration

Rauner: What I’ll say is it breaks my heart the violence that’s occurring in Chicago and unfortunately in some other communities too.

Sarabia: But do you think this has anything to do with Chicago being a sanctuary city?

Rauner: You know what I think it primarily has to do with? Lack of opportunity. Lack of educational opportunity [and] economic opportunity in so many of these neighborhoods. We have crushing unemployment, poorly-funded poorly-managed schools, lack of equality, lack of opportunity. And that’s what I’m fighting to try and change everyday.

Sarabia: So that’s a no?

Rauner: That is: We need more opportunity in Chicago and across the state of Illinois.

Sarabia: Just so I’m clear, Chicago being a sanctuary city, there’s no connection between that and the level of violence in the city?

Rauner: People can make whatever connections … people will do what they want and say what they want. I’ll be crystal clear: It’s a lack of economic and educational opportunity that primarily drives this violence.

On how he can convince the public to re-elect him when Illinois is in such bad economic shape

Rauner: I tell voters that our system is broken. Madigan and his caucus, Madigan’s concentration of power has blocked all the reforms — term limits, fair maps, property tax relief, regulatory relief for businesses, cutting the red tape, pension reform.

Sarabia: Do you run on that? …  In the series of interview that I’ve listened back to in the last couple of days, I counted about 15 times, with all due respect, that you had said “the system is broken.” So a lot of people know by now that the system is broken, so I guess my question is, when you go before voters, what do you say in terms of “here’s what I, Gov. Rauner, can do for you in the next four years?”

Rauner: Exactly right. Here’s the bottom line: We can’t give up. The fact that Madigan has such a lock on power, we can’t give up on fighting against that. We can never give up. We need to change our system. This is not about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about Madigan’s control of the system. Democrats in California did term limits — why can’t we do that? Democrats in Massachusetts did workers compensation reform — why can’t we do that?

Sarabia: So it sounds like you’re running against Michael Madigan?

Rauner: His lock on the system, his control of the system … I’m the one person standing and fighting against that, and what I need is the people’s help. I need Democrats, good honest Democrats many of whom support me, to say “No more control by Speaker Madigan and his lock on power in his caucus.” Let’s have true democracy in Illinois and we will thrive.

Sarabia: He’s not running for governor though.

Rauner: You know what, he controls the system. And the people of Illinois can change it if they hold accountable members of his caucus who vote for Speaker Madigan to stay in power.

On how President Trump plays into Rauner’s chances of winning reelection

Sarabia: I don’t think it’s going to matter because people see me as my own person. I stand for what I stand for and I have strongly, vehemently disagreed with the president on his comments about Charlottesville. I stand for social justice. I have fought against hatred and racism my whole life. And people see that I am independent, I do what’s right, I’m fighting for school children and equity, I’m fighting for more jobs, I’m working for political reform in our state through term limits and fair maps, and people get that. The rest of national politics is it’s own world. We in Illinois need to focus on what we can fix.

NOTE: In the audio, Tony Sarabia referenced a provision of SB31 that is not in the final version. Here is the langauge of the final enrolled version of SB31 (Illinois Trust Act).

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Click the “play” button to hear the entire segment, which was produced by Carrie Shepherd. Web story written by Justin Bull.