Six of the seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 14th Congressional District seat shared plans of varying details for how to stem illegal immigration and fix the flaws in the system for those working their way through the sluggish green card process.
The plans came out at a Batavia debate Thursday night sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
All six candidates said they support securing the southern border with a wall or the use of advanced technology more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
James Marter, who lives in Oswego, put forward the most detailed plan, both in his debate answer and responses to a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire.
He supports the use of E-Verify to check the immigration status of employees, a biometric entry/exit system, the end of birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented residents, mandatory reporting of noncitizens to ICE and an expedited removal for such residents who have criminal convictions. He also supports the end of “catch-and-release” and more restrictions on visas and asylum claims.
Woodstock resident Catalina Lauf said her grandparents set a model when they took the legal path to the United States from Guatemala.
“They learned the language, and they immersed themselves here in the country,” Lauf said. “We need to make sure we are prioritizing the safety and security of Americans and also not politicizing what is going on.”
Lauf supports Trump’s plan for merit-based immigration. That plan involves a point system where priority is given to younger, more educated immigrants with preexisting offers of employment or a plan to create jobs. It also requires immigrants to be financially self-sufficient and pass a civics exam.
Jerry Evans, a Warrenville resident, spotlighted the legal immigration of his wife’s family from Taiwan. He supports the wall but said there must be a focus on supporting legal immigration and making sure there are proper pathways to citizenship for refugees and asylum-seekers.
“I believe in creating a simplified, modern path to allow legal immigration into our nation while ensuring that we have a secure border,” Evans said.
Naperville resident Ted Gradel said all immigration solutions begin with securing borders. He said he supports the methods Trump has used to get other nations to the south to play active roles in preventing episodes like the large caravan of immigrants who made their way to U.S. border last year.
“We’re partnering with nations,” Gradel said. “I think that’s an important concept.”
State Sen. Sue Rezin of Morris agreed border security is of prime importance.
“You’re not a bad neighbor if you lock your door at night or you want to know who is coming in and out of your country,” Rezin said.
In her Daily Herald questionnaire, she expounded on that idea by saying illegal southern border crossings are treacherous for those making the journey and unfair to everyone else who wants to enter the country through the legal immigration system.
St. Charles resident Anthony Catella said he is for immigration because America is a nation of immigrants. But that has limits.
“I’m simply not for illegal immigration,” Catella said. “I’m for everyone who wants to be a citizen in this country to have a path to become a citizen.”
In his Daily Herald questionnaire, Catella said Mexico will provide all the funding for the southern border wall.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove was not at the debate.
In his Daily Herald questionnaire, Oberweis was the only candidate to address the issue of what to do with the children of undocumented immigrants officially recognized as Dreamers.
Oberweis said he supports a path to citizenship for the Dreamers but not an automatic path to citizenship for their parents.
He said Oberweis Dairy has used E-Verify for 15 years. And he supports a southern border wall, the end of birthright citizenship and the hiring of more border patrol agents.
The primary election is March 17. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood of Naperville.
The 14th Congressional District includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.