Both congressional candidates in the 14th District agree America’s immigration system needs fixing on several levels.
Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren’s focus is on border security and ending sanctuary cities, while Democratic challenger Lauren Underwood would focus on more expedient paths to citizenship and decriminalizing illegal immigration.
The Daily Herald provided a series of written questions about immigration to both candidates. Hultgren responded to each question. Underwood responded with a written statement touching on many of the topics.
President Donald Trump’s proposal for an multibillion-dollar wall on the southern border with Mexico is a plan Hultgren supports at certain parts of the border. He also supports the broader use of technology.
“Any comprehensive immigration solution must include border security,” Hultgren said. “A biometric entry/exit system was promised to the American people in former immigration deals, but it was never delivered. Getting this done would help build the public trust necessary to tackle our bigger immigration issues.”
Underwood agrees technology is part of the answer to border security, but she said a wall would be an ineffective solution.
“Simple, structural barriers such as the president’s proposed border wall will not solve this complex, multifaceted problem,” Underwood said. “This ill-conceived project would take away resources from effective interventions like border surveillance, radar technology and customs agents.”
Underwood also opposes the separation of children from their families at the border and the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Hultgren supports the goals of the DACA program and voted in favor of legal status for DACA recipients in a bill that was paired with border security funding. However, he believes the program itself was “unlawful” and would not have withstood a legal challenge. As for the current legal status of former DACA recipients and possible deportation, Hultgren said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers should focus on the “removal of criminals and repeat offenders of immigration law.”
Hultgren said he also supports a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who have served in the U.S. military.
As far as others coming to the United States, Hultgren said he supports an expansion of the refugee program and a program for Temporary Protected Status for people in areas that have experienced natural disasters.
“We should accept refugees who are fleeing turmoil and danger in their homeland and welcome them to our communities,” Hultgren said. “Our values as a nation dictate that we help people in need to the extent we are able.”
Hultgren also supports a policy for asylum-seekers that does not treat Mexican citizens and people from Central America differently, as the current system does.
“Many asylum-seekers were lied to about our laws when they came into the country via illegal trafficking organizations,” Hultgren said. “The majority of asylum claims are not granted, with economic reasons being the primary reason for migration. Once people are made aware of the laws, there should be the same process for immediate voluntary removal.”
Hultgren does not support any separation of children from families at the border unless the safety of the child is in jeopardy for some reason. He also does not support recent calls to abolish ICE.
Underwood believes ICE “is an agency in need of reform and oversight.” Congress must provide that oversight, she said.
“I am eager to support policies that provide clear guidance around legal immigration, recognize existing economic and civic contributions of our immigrant communities, offer a pathway to citizenship, and decriminalize immigration enforcement action,” Underwood said.
In addressing other immigration policies discussed or implemented by the Trump administration, Hultgren said the Supreme Court made the right decision in supporting the travel ban.
“There should not and will not be any religious test for people entering the United States, as that runs counter to our nation’s founding ideals and the inalienable rights we all share,” Hultgren said. “The president’s travel restrictions were not a ban on any faith, and also included protections for persecuted religious minorities in restricted countries, including persecuted Muslim sects.”
Underwood did not respond to a question about the travel ban other than a broad rebuke of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
“Our policies must honor and recognize the value and dignity of all of our immigrant communities,” Underwood said. “I strongly condemn the hurtful and divisive rhetoric that has become commonplace under this administration.”
Hultgren also said he supports mandatory use of E-Verify to determine a potential employee’s immigration status. And he believes sanctuary cities who refuse to allow their local jails to transfer a criminal to ICE before being released to the general public should lose all federal money, particular dollars that go to support local law enforcement.
Underwood did not answer questions about E-Verify and sanctuary cities.
Read the original story here.