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Legislation Would Prevent Illinois From Paying For Trump's Border Wall

Amanda Vinicky
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois won't financially support a wall on the Mexican border if some Democratic lawmakers can help it.

Will President-Elect Donald Trump's wall be built? Who knows.

But to Rep. Will Guzzardi, even the idea sends a message -- one that seeks to blame those south of the U.S. border for America's problems.

Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat, is sponsor of legislation intended to send the opposite message. As he puts it, he wants to make clear that the state considers immigrants essential to American fabric.

He proposes forbidding Illinois's pension systems from investing in any corporation that takes part in building such a wall. "Instead of investing dollars in a wall, we should be investing more so in schools, in universities. It's about building bridges, not building walls," says State Representative Lisa Hernandez, a Democrat from Cicero, a co-sponsor.

State law already requires its pension systems to have divested from firms that do business with Iran, Sudan and those that boycott Israel.

Guzzardi also appears to have another objective: Forcing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner out of his metaphorical fox hole.

"So when we get this bill to the governor's desk I believe it will be an opportunity for the governor to tell us where he stands ... It's high time that the governor make a statement about where he stands and how he feels about this critically important issue." Guzzardi says he's disappointed Rauner hasn't repudiated some of Trump's rhetoric.

The governor refused to say Trump's name during the campaign, but he recently spoke with the President-Elect, but the two spoke by phone earlier this month. After, Rauner said that he is hopeful the Trump administration will be “pro-growth.”

Tuesday afternoon, Rauner didn't directly respond to a question about his stance on a border wall, but the governor said that he supports "comprehensive immigration reform."

He also said that he found the presidential campaign rhetoric "appalling," and that everyone now needs to take a "deep breath."

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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