Dear Governor Rauner:
In recent days the nation has been gripped by the stories of migrant families being separated at our southern border; the images are harrowing and many of our mutual constituents are rising up in opposition to the zero-tolerance policy and its inhumane results. The psychological toll this devastating policy has and will continue to have on these families is staggering. In one unspeakably tragic case, a father committed suicide after being torn away from his wife and children, and in another, a 10-year-old child with Down syndrome was ripped from her mother. Looking away is not an option as these acts are carried out in our nation’s name.
Countless elected officials, faith leaders, and individual citizens have spoken out against the barbaric treatment of migrant families. Pope Francis, Former First Lady Laura Bush, and you yourself have called what is happening immoral and heartbreaking. It is encouraging that you are using your position of leadership to join others in speaking against this policy with moral urgency, however recent events require stronger action.
In April you stated that, if asked, you would send Illinois’ National Guard to the southern border. Although yesterday you said you have not given that prior offer “any thought whatsoever,” We are calling upon you today to be firm and unequivocal in your condemnation of the zero-tolerance policy and its devastating results.
If indeed you believe this policy is “wrong,” “heartbreaking” and “not the moral thing to do,” then we urge you to send a clear message by formally rescinding your prior offer to send our Illinois National Guard to enforce the Trump Administration’s cruel border practices.
Governors of both parties around the nation have made it clear that their own states’ resources will not be sent while such policies are in place. In Massachusetts, Governor Baker has rescinded his prior offer to send troops, as has Governor Hogan from Maryland. Governors from New York, North Carolina, and Virginia also stated that their National Guards will not participate in President Trump’s border enforcement. Illinois should have no role in aiding the federal government while a zero-tolerance policy toward migrants is continued.
We strongly urge you to join this growing chorus and put action behind your recent words – including but not limited to condemning the zero-tolerance policy and any policy which results in family separation, demanding answers as to how those already separated will be reunited, and pushing for an immigration reform policy that respects human dignity and welcomes those seeking the promise of America.
State Representative Ann Williams
State Representative Jaime Andrade
State Representative Will Guzzardi