Video Versus: Giannoulias v. Kirk on Immigration - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Video Versus: Giannoulias v. Kirk on Immigration



    Giannoulias and Kirk both spoke about Arizona's illegal immigrant policy this week. Here's how the two would-be senators match up in rhetoric. (Published Wednesday, May 19, 2010)

    Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk aren't so different when it comes to Arizona's controversial new immigration law.

    They both agree immigration reform should be handled on the federal level, and that the Highland Park High School team should be allowed to play ball wherever they want.

    The only real difference is that Kirk sounds like he knows what he wants and knows what he's talking about. Giannoulias sounds like he's non-committal and avoiding any real detailed discussion. There may be more differences, but you can't really tell from how Giannoulias has avoided the question.

    Consider the video above. Then consider these quotes, taken from two separate interviews this week. 

    Giannoulias: "I've got serious problems with what took place in Arizona and I think that only encourages racial profiling. But that's symbolic again of Washington DC being broken. I think we need comprehensive immigration reform and I think we need it right now."

    Mary Ann Ahern: So should the girls go or not go?

     "I think what's more important from a candidate's perspective is making sure that we pass comprehensive reform."
    Mary Ann Ahern: So you're not willing to take a stand on the immigration issue?...Why is that so difficult to say?
    "Well I guess I think they should be able to go if that's what they decide. But what's more important is that this is happening, there are rumblings of this happening in other states. We can't have that more now than ever. We need comprehensive immigration reform."

    It's a simple position: stuff is broke, we should fix it. Giannoulias appeals to emotion and practicality without revealing specifics.

    And now here's Kirk, who's often chastised for not speaking to the media, divulging his position in Quincy after being endorsed by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce:

    "I went to school in Mexico. I speak Spanish...we're looking forward to the president of Mexico's arrival in the U.S. Congress. I admire him very greatly. He is in a death struggle to save Mexican democracy and human rights in his country against drug cartels. 20,000 Mexicans have died in this battle so far and some of the violence has spilled over onto our side of the border...I understand the way Arizona citizens feel. But one state acting alone can't solve this problem. This is a core federal responsibility. Which is why I'm for completing the wall and increasing the size of the border patrol. Because I think we can accomplish this mission, we just lack the will in Washington."

    Reporter off-camera: Do you think this is a good or bad law?

    Kirk: "I think the law is one state acting alone which in the end is not effective. This is a core federal responsibolity. Especially after 9-11. We think, or I believe, and I think most Americans believe that the federal government should know who is entering the United States. And remember this isn't just a concern with our southern border. The 9-11 attackers came across the Candian border. This is a Homeland Security issue for the United States ... I think the American people want stronger control of the border and common sense would tell us that only the federal government can do this effectively."


    Now, regardless of whether you agree with Kirk's Fortress America-like policies, it's obvious that Kirk comes off as much more educated on the issue and willing to take a principled stand based on life experience and his political beliefs.

    Maybe Giannoulias has an equally principled stand. But he hasn't voiced it after repeated questioning.

    Something to consider when choosing a candidate who'll be affecting national immigration policy. Just sayin.