Chicago immigrant rights activists and religious leaders are upset that the Republican candidate for Illinois governor, state Sen. Bill Brady, and other Republican politicians are scheduled to share the stage Saturday with a woman who is the founder of the Illinois Minuteman Project and has made controversial comments about immigrants, Catholics and Muslims.
Rosanna Pulido, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress, is scheduled to speak at a Tea Party rally in Bartlett this afternoon hosted by the Tri-Count-Teas. They also have invited Republican politicians, including state Sen. Randy Hultgren, a candidate for Congress in the 14th District , Angel Garcia, a candidate for Cook County Clerk, and Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica. The Tri-Count-Teas posted a list of invited candidates on a press release at Trib Local.
Pulido has made controversial statements including blaming Catholic Cardinal Francis George for immigration.
"Cardinal George is responsible for every illegal immigrant who dies while crossing the border coming over here because he is luring them," Pulido told ABC7 in March 2009.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has links to more of her controversial statements on their Web site. Immigrant rights activists and religious leaders accused Pulido of fomenting hate speech in comments she has made under the user name Chicago Lady on FreeRepublic.com.
In my opinion, Pulido is an anti-immigrant activist and it's ironic because she is also Latina.
If mainstream politicians decide to share the stage with her, they only legitimize her viewpoints and risk being associated with them. Illinois Republicans should also be careful about jumping on the conservative Tea Party bandwagon.
The Tea Party has struggled with accusations of having racist elements within their movement. We saw what happened with the expulsion of Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams after he wrote a controversial letter from "the Colored People" to President Lincoln.
The local Tea Party activists open themselves up to more criticism by including someone who is anti-immigrant like Pulido on their stage.
I think Brady and other politicians should not share the stage with anybody associated with the Minuteman group. In border states, Minutemen have formed mini-militias to patrol for undocumented immigrants. Some of them identify as neo-Nazis, according to a recent article in Salon that cites the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Illinois is far from the border but we are impacted by immigration. Our politicians should not exploit this issue. By jumping on the stage with people who are against immigration reform they risk alienating Latino voters and people who believe in tolerance.