LOUISVILLE â€“ The Democratic candidate challenging Rep. Brett Guthrie in November wants amnesty for all immigrants who are living in the country illegally
Hank Linderman is challenging Guthrie, the Republican congressman who since 2009 has represented Kentucky’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Bowling Green, OwensboroÂ and Elizabethtown.Â
“I am calling for action to help the millions of undocumented people already working in our communities, serving in our military and raising families by granting amnesty,” Linderman said in a statement. Amnesty would be given for “qualified” immigrants living in the U.S. as of July 4, he said.Â
Linderman is also calling for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be restructured and its mission refocused.Â
“The abuses we have seen, including family separations, extended incarcerations and even violent and sexual assault, must stop,” he said.Â
Linderman’s comments come amid a nationwide backlash againstÂ ICE after it was revealed that the TrumpÂ administration had a policy that separated immigrant children from their families at the border. In Louisville, groups have been calling to abolish ICE for weeks, protesting outside the ICE office downtown as well as at Louisville Immigration Court.Â
“We are a nation of immigrants,” Linderman said in theÂ statement. “To deny this reality is to deny our nation itself.”
Lauren Gaydos, a spokeswoman for Guthrie, said the congressman opposes the “abolish ICE” movement and that he backs most Trump immigration policies.Â
“Congressman Guthrie has voted for immigration reform that reflects President Trumpâ€™s priorities: building the wall, fixing the ‘Dreamer’ issue, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, ending chain migration, and reuniting families,” Gaydos said.
More: Political path forÂ Trump, Republicans in midterms cuts through America’s soybean fields
More: Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un may give him some political benefits for midterms
A spokesperson for GuthrieÂ did not immediately return a request for comment.Â In 2016, he was re-elected to his office after he went unopposed. He has served as the representative for the 2nd District since 2009.Â
Linderman is a Florida native who moved to Louisville in the 1970s. He attended the University of Louisville but did not earn a degree from the institution,Â according to his campaignÂ page.Â
Linderman, a musician and recording engineer by trade who spent time in Culver City, California,Â was also a lead guitarist in a Louisville band called Quickdraw.Â
He has played with and been an engineer for several famous bands, including America, Chicago and The Eagles.Â
Linderman said there are estimates of more than 10 million immigrants living in the country illegally, and he pointed to formerÂ President Ronald Reagan’s amnesty act in 1986 as an example of the policy’s success.
“Any reform of immigration law and process in the United States must include amnesty for those already living here,” Linderman said in his statement.Â
Linderman captured 30 percent of the Democratic primary vote in May, beating out fellow democratic candidates Brian Pedigo, Rane Eir Olivia Sessions and Grant Short.
The last elected Democratic representativeÂ from the second district was William Natcher, who served from 1953 to 1994.Â
Follow Thomas Novelly on Twitter: @TomNovelly