Progress Illinois: Kirk puts border security before comprehensive immigration reform

In a definite first for the City Club of Chicago, condoms lays scattered across the white linen tableclothes at their luncheon yesterday feature GOP Rep. Mark Kirk, thanks to a protest organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). The attendees may not have realized it, but when they politely accepted the contraceptives on the way in to the event, they held in their hands what Kirk had once suggested might be a substitute for Mexican border control.

That 2007 remark by the North Shore Republican is just one in a long list (PDF) of anti-immigrant comments and votes that have put Kirk on the wrong side of immigration reform. And despite Kirk’s attempt to make nice at the City Club podium yesterday — talking up his time as a foreign exchange student in Mexico (even slipping in some Spanish) — Kirk ultimately exited through a back door rather than face the crowd of immigrant rights activists gathered on Grand Avenue.

During the event, Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations posed a question to Kirk about comprehensive immigration reform. But all he got in return was an answer about border security. Watch it:

Rehab’s take following the luncheon: “He’s lost. He doesn’t have an answer because he doesn’t have a solution.”

Kirk has refused to join other Illinois officials who’ve vowed to push for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, including a path to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants already residing in the country. As ICIRR director John Hoyt told Crain’s Greg Hinz earlier this week, that stance could bring more unwanted attention his way as 2010 approaches:

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