Three weeks ago, 14th Congressional District candidates Bill Foster and Randy Hultgren shunned follow-up questions to their already-professed views on immigration reform. This week, the pair sat for a face-to-face interview and provided more information on where they stand regarding some of the more controversial aspects of addressing illegal immigration.
Both Foster and Hultgren agree a key part of the solution is in cracking down on businesses hiring illegal immigrants. However, they disagree somewhat on the best way for a business to determine someone's legal status.
Foster supports the idea of some form of national ID card. He's interested in proposals regarding biometric Social Security cards for all citizens.
"This is not a card that you have to carry," Foster said. "This is not Nazi Germany. But it is very reasonable that when an employer hires someone that, at some point, that person has to present high-quality legal verification that they are able to work here, either because they are legal citizens or part of a legal worker program."
"The details of that are going to be very, very tough to hammer out. Any final deal you have on this is going to leave lots of people unhappy. Ultimately you're going to have to make a decision and accept the heat on both sides."
Hultgren said he hasn't decided if he supports the creation of a national ID.
"I want to look at all those options," Hultgren said. "My concern is how poorly we've done in other areas where we increase bureaucracy. There's still a concern of how powerful do we make government. We need to make sure our borders are secure, but how much of our own personal freedom do we give up with that? With workers, we do need a database that shows if people are legal or not."
Both candidates agree all immigrants should be required to learn some basic level of English to be a citizen, but not necessarily be fluent immediately after entering the country.
Hultgren, a Republican from Winfield, and Foster, the Democratic incumbent from Batavia, also both reject the idea of total amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country. But neither candidate believes in automatic deportation because a person entered illegally. Background checks, fines and sending them to the back of the line for legal citizenship application is the way to go, they agreed.
Foster, however, would not penalize the children of illegal immigrants who are also here illegally. But Foster does favor deportation of anyone who can't pass a background check.
"People who cannot pass a background check for significant criminal reasons should not be in this country," Foster said. "That means we're going to have to break up families."
Hultgren said streamlining the citizenship process will help discourage further illegal immigration.
"For many people it's a multiyear process," Hultgren said. "We've got to cut through that. Do the background checks. If they have something to add, if they are someone who can be a job-creator here, if they can bring more innovation to our country, we should have a process in nine months or 12 months that they can go through."