Kirk says he opposes Ariz. immigration law

May 18, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Kirk's stand comes in the wake of the flap at Highland Park High School where the girls' basketball team was stopped from attending a tournament in Arizona.

Even though Highland Park High School lies within his 10th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk held his first news conference Tuesday since the Arizona trip controversy erupted last week. Kirk believes student athletes should not be enlisted to boycott Arizona but he disagrees with that state's crackdown on illegal immigration. Watch Kirk's entire exchange with reporters on the AZ law

Congressman Kirk toured a North Side printing company to promote his job creation plan for small businesses after accepting the endorsement of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. He tried but could not avoid the question: should the Highland Park High School girls' basketball team have canceled its trip to play in Arizona because of the state's new immigration law?

"I believe you should take politics off the court and let the girls play," said Kirk.

Last week, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made the canceled trip a national story when she criticized the decision made for the team by Highland Park school officials.

"Let's do something for that basketball team and even if they kind of have to do it on their own, they kind of have to go rogue, girls," said Palin.

"I'm here to say that I'm 100 percent in support of the decision to deny the request of the varsity basketball girls' team to travel to Arizona," said Marissa Medansky, Highland Park junior.

Citing security for its student athletes as opposed to political concerns, school officials entered the team in a Florida tournament later this year.

Meanwhile, the self-described moderate on social issues Kirk went rogue on the conservative wing of his own Republican Party when he spoke out Tuesday against the Arizona crackdown on immigration.

"I understand the way Arizona citizens feel. But one state acting alone can't solve this problem. This is a core federal responsibility," said Kirk.

Kirk's Democratic opponent Alexi Giannoulias also opposes the Arizona law because he believes it is divisive and encourages racial profiling.

Both Kirk and Giannoulias support versions of comprehensive immigration reform as national policy.

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