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2 Latino Dems fight for Illinois House seat, clashing over immigration

A congressional race in Illinois on Tuesday pits two Democratic Hispanics against each other — with staunchly different views on immigration policy.
2 Latino Dems fight for Illinois House seat, clashing over immigration
Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 18, 2024

Illinois’ 4th Congressional District has long been drawn to give Chicago area Latinos a chance to elect a House member of their choosing. On Tuesday, Democratic voters will decide between two Mexican American Democrats with sharply different views on how to handle the influx of migrants in Chicago. 

Representative Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, one of the most progressive members of the House, is being challenged from the right by Raymond Lopez, a Democratic Chicago alderperson who calls for tougher enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico border. 

"This was a failure of the federal government. This was a failure to protect the border. And that border crisis became Chicago's backyard crisis," Lopez told Scripps News, adding that he blames President Joe Biden for the surge in migration.  

Garcia, who considers himself a working-class progressive, told Scripps News that Chicago has had a great tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world, and that "we should not change that because we are experiencing this large surge." 

Instead, Garcia says we need to “think about the hemisphere and measures that we can take so that people will not be forcibly displaced and dislocated because they're likely to wind up at our southern border.” 

Since August 2022, roughly 37,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago, many of them bused from Texas at the direction of Texas Gov Greg Abbott. 

According to CBS New Chicago, the city has spent nearly $300 million housing and feeding thousands of migrants — prompting concerns among some Latino voters that the new arrivals are unfairly prioritized. 

"I'm very proud that my family migrated here. And, you know, we were welcome in America. But America is the land where you earn your keep," said Orlando Solas, a Chicago voter residing in the district. 

Multiple measles cases were reported last week at the city's largest shelter, located in the congressional district and holding nearly 2,000 migrants. 

“They're stopping cars, soliciting people. And when you get that close to people, I'm not sure what you bring with you when you came over," said Victoria Irvin, a Chicago voter from the district. 

Some voters, though, said their own immigration stories make them more sympathetic to the migrants. 

"I made friends with some of the recent immigrants, and they're here to work and to prosper because there's a lot of political turmoil in their home country," said Alberto Lara, a Chicago voter from the district. 

Nationally, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that a large majority of Latinos in the U.S. view the border situation as a "crisis" or a "major problem," and most say the government is doing a bad job dealing with it. 

On Chicago's Southwest Side and in the dozens of nearby suburbs partly included in the district, the outcome of the Congressional primary on Tuesday evening could signal whether voters in progressive cities — and Hispanics specifically — favor a tougher stance on immigration policies. 

SEE MORE: Supreme Court extends stay on controversial Texas immigration law

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