Mar 13, 2024 - Politics

Immigration shakes out to be key issue in Illinois 4th District race

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Raymond Lopez.

U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (left) and Ald. Raymond Lopez. Photos: Courtesy of Garcia and City of Chicago

Illinois' 4th Congressional District race could signal whether Chicago-area voters want a tougher stance on immigration policies.

Why it matters: The Democrats running in the largely Latino district are staunchly divided over how to handle the influx of migrants as Chicago houses more than 11,000 new arrivals.

State of play: Ald. Raymond Lopez, who led the failed effort last year for a ballot referendum on Chicago's sanctuary city status, is seeking to unseat Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García, who has made ending family separation at the border central to his platform.

  • Lopez says the U.S. must secure the border and create pathways for immigrants with no criminal background who have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years.
  • Garcia has introduced legislation aimed at ending criminalization of immigrants as well as pushing for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients to have a pathway to citizenship.

The intrigue: Both candidates are putting pressure on Washington. Lopez has used the campaign to place partial blame on Congress for Chicago's current migrant crisis, while García has called on President Biden to expedite work permits for new arrivals.

What they're saying: García has accused Lopez of fear-mongering and "vilifying immigrants," while Lopez has called García an "open-border Democrat who has forgotten about everyone here that's been waiting for help."

Context: The 4th District includes O'Hare on the north end, stretching south to Burbank, including Midway, and west out to Oak Brook.

  • Both García and Lopez are Mexican American and grew up on Chicago's Southwest Side.
  • García has been in the seat since 2019 and previously served as a Chicago alder and state senator. He ran unsuccessfully for Chicago mayor twice, making it into a runoff with incumbent Rahm Emanuel in 2015.
  • Lopez has repped the 15th Ward on the Southwest Side since 2015.

By the numbers: Lopez's campaign contributions are much lower than his opponent's, which the alder attributes to his jumping into the race late, WBEZ reported.

What's ahead: Illinois' Democratic primary will take place March 19.

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