Gov. Bruce Rauner said illegal immigrants are one of the reasons for Chicago's high crime rate during a debate with J.B. Pritzker before the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board.
"One of the reasons we have such high unemployment in the city of Chicago and so much crime is the massive number of illegal immigrants here that take jobs away from American citizens and Chicago citizens," Rauner said.
When asked directly if he was blaming the violence in Chicago on illegal immigrants he responded: "I'm saying that the unemployment is higher and the wages are lower because we have so much illegal immigration."
"We have immigrants here we're not protecting, under attack from, under attack by President Trump, he stands with President Trump on this, I do not," responded Pritzker.
Rauner's comments drew the criticism of the Latino Policy Forum.
"I'm really having trouble understanding the about-face that Governor Rauner has taken on immigrant families, given that he recently signed landmark legislation called the Illinois Trust Act that protects immigrant rights in the state," Latino Policy Forum Executive Director Sylvia Puente said. "To his comments, research contradicts his statement by showing that crime is lower among undocumented immigrants than the general population."
The debate was contentious almost from the start with both candidates attacking one another over their scandals. Pritzker was dodging questions about an alleged scheme to defraud in a property tax appeals case.
"Remember also that 54,000 people in Cook County seek to have their property taxes reassessed," Pritzker said.
"Don't insult the people of Chicago," Rauner interrupted.
"Look you're on the attack because you're distracting from your own record," Pritzker shot back.
Rauner tried to deflect from his handling of the legionnaire's deaths at the Quincy Veterans' Home.
"At no point, and at no point has anyone ever said there was any unethical or criminal behavior ever," Rauner said.
"There is a criminal probe," Pritzker interjected.
When a Sun-Times editorial board member asked why it was being investigated, Rauner responded "For political purposes."
It was a debate rife with rancor and marked by repeated interruptions with the candidates accusing one another of lies and Rauner at one point calling Pritzker "Mr. Tax Cheat."
At one point both men were rebuked for talking over one another.
"Excuse me guys, boys, boys," scolded Tom McNamee, Sun-Times editorial board editor.
This debate as much as any highlighted the bitter tone that now pervades this race with just four weeks until the Nov. 6 election.
Rauner blames 'illegal' immigrants for Chicago crime in contentious debate with Pritzker