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updated: 1/26/2018 5:05 PM

10th District congressional candidates sound off on immigration policies

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  • Republican congressional candidate Jeremy Wynes, center, talks while fellow candidates Dr. Sapan Shah, left, and Douglas Bennett listen during a recent political forum at a Highland Park synagogue.

      Republican congressional candidate Jeremy Wynes, center, talks while fellow candidates Dr. Sapan Shah, left, and Douglas Bennett listen during a recent political forum at a Highland Park synagogue.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

Two of the three Republican candidates for Illinois' 10th Congressional District seat support creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children.

Although he expressed concern about illegal immigration, GOP hopeful Jeremy Wynes backed allowing the immigrants known as "Dreamers" to remain in the U.S. and earn citizenship. Such a plan should be a "simple bipartisan compromise that would have the support of the vast majority of Americans," Wynes said in a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire.

Similarly, fellow candidate Dr. Sapan Shah said the cases of young immigrants who are protected from deportation as part of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should be handled differently than those of other immigrants.

The third Republican seeking the 10th District seat, Doug Bennett, said it's "hard to support" any policy that allows people here illegally to get through the immigration process faster than those who have worked within the law.

Wynes, Shah and Bennett will face off in the March 20 primary. The winner will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield in the November general election.

The White House Thursday unveiled a proposal that provides a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants, in exchange for new restrictions on legal immigration and $25 billion in border security.

The plan was applauded by some in Congress, but blasted by conservative activists as "amnesty." It also was slammed by a slew of Democrats, who accused President Donald Trump of holding the young immigrants hostage to his hard-line immigration agenda.

All three 10th District Republican candidates criticized elements of U.S. immigration policy.

Wynes is a Highland Park resident who formerly was the Midwest director for the Republican Jewish Coalition. He said partisan fighting in Washington, D.C., stands in the way of a compromise that would both allow Dreamers to stay in the U.S. and increase border security.

Wynes said getting tighter control of U.S. borders will allow the government to seek ways to allow "law-abiding immigrants" to earn legal status in exchange for "stepped-up" deportation of people who deserve that action.

Shah is a Libertyville resident and the senior vice president of a health care company. He said the U.S. must "do everything we can" to curb illegal immigration. That being said, Shah also noted that DACA recipients "are a unique category" because they were children when brought here.

"We have to acknowledge that minors do not have the same culpability as adults and cannot be liable for the actions of their parents or guardians," Shah said.

Bennett is a Deerfield computer consultant. In his questionnaire, Bennett didn't say if he supports or opposes a path to citizenship for younger undocumented immigrants.

Bennett said the government must get serious about enforcing U.S. borders, create policies that prevent low-wage workers from driving down pay for U.S. citizens and rapidly deport "known felons."

When pressed in a follow-up interview, Bennett said he could support an immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants if it had those other provisions.

The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this story.

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