tags: Press Releases

Parties’ Immigration Positions, Consequences, On Display in Illinois Election

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Il-05 Voters the Latest to Favor Practical Reformer over Mass-Deportation Hardliners  

Yesterday’s IL-5 special election to find Rahm Emanuel’s replacement is the latest evidence that voters support pro-immigration reform candidates instead of those running on harsh, anti-immigration platforms.  Commissioner Mike Quigley trounced virulently anti-immigrant crusader and Republican candidate Rosanna Pulido by a very large margin.  Pulido is the founder of the Illinois Minuteman Project and former field coordinator for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Although the race to replace Emanuel took place in a heavily Democratic district, there is no doubt that the Republican candidate’s extreme positions made it even harder for her to compete in the general election.

“There’s a new consensus regarding the politics of immigration,” said Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Assertive, pro-reform Democrats ready to solve problems are consistently defeating Republicans who run on a mass-deportation platform.  Democrats like Mike Quigley are being elected while promising to lead on immigration reform, while voters are broadly rejecting candidates espousing views like Rosanna Pulido’s.”

Pulido, who called former GOP presidential candidate John McCain “another politician that acts like he was elected to represent the Mexican government,” and also stated that “Mexicans are the new Ku Klux Klan with the Tan!” based her candidacy around anti-immigrant rhetoric and promised to “repeatedly remind voters” about Quigley’s support for comprehensive immigration reform.

After suffering stinging defeats during the 2008 elections, notable Republican strategists and politicians such as John McCain and Karl Rove have said that Republicans must change their approach to immigration policy in order to rehabilitate their image among Latino voters and remain a viable national party.  However, Rep. Lamar Smith and other mass-deportation leaders continue to live in denial, claiming that embracing harsh, anti-immigration stances is in fact a winning political strategy. 

This election also follows last November’s trend in 20 of 22 key battleground races throughout the country, where the Democratic winner advocated a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform than the Republican loser.  This is clear evidence that the electorate is willing to support candidates who promise to tackle tough problems with smart solutions, not inflammatory rhetoric.

On Quigley’s campaign website, he made his pro-reform bona fides clear, stating, “Mike supports comprehensive immigration reform. As a member of Congress, Mike would join forces with Congressman Luis Gutierrez and others to enact legislation providing a path toward citizenship for law-abiding immigrants who have been in this country for many years-while, at the same time, protecting the integrity of America’s borders. He will support Senator Durbin’s efforts to pass the ‘Dream Act,’ ensuring that young people who are the children of undocumented workers can pursue a college education in the United States, rather than being forced to leave the only country that they have ever known.”

“Yesterday was further evidence that what’s popular on the FAIR mailing list does not play well with the broader electorate,” said Sharry.  “The national GOP should take note and recognize its future as a national party hinges on distancing itself from the mass-deportation wing of the Party and recognizing voters’ desires for solving problems and fixing the broken immigration system.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.