English as national language? Border wall? 11th District Republicans discuss immigration

Republicans running for Illinois' 11th Congressional District seat expressed varied stances on immigration policy reform and what to do about people already in the country illegally.

One said making English the national language would be a key step; several favored funding a wall across the southern border.

Mark Carroll of North Aurora, Jerry Evans of Warrenville, Susan L. Hathaway-Altman of the Geneva area, Andrea Heeg of the Geneva area, Catalina Lauf of Woodstock and Cassandra Tanner Miller of Elgin are seeking the GOP nomination in the June 28 primary.

The winner will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville in the Nov. 8 general election.

All but Heeg completed Daily Herald questionnaires in which they discussed immigration and other issues. Some also were asked follow-up questions via email.

Carroll, a North Aurora trustee and an attorney, said the U.S. should adopt English as the national language. The U.S. has no official language and legislative efforts to establish one have failed.

Carroll said Congress needs to allocate funding to teach non-English speaking immigrants how to read and write English.

Additionally, Carroll supports funding a wall across the southern border and changing the guest worker program so such immigrants can be tracked if they change jobs or their visas expire.

He also said communities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation or prosecution, typically called sanctuary cities, should be illegal.

Evans, a music school owner who ran for the 14th District seat in 2020, called the situation at the border "a humanitarian and economic disaster." He criticized President Joe Biden's immigration policies, especially ending construction of the border wall and Biden's intent to end Title 42, a Trump-era order that allows authorities to swiftly expel migrants.

Biden's moves "incentivized the trafficking of humans and drugs throughout the United States, including here in Illinois," Evans said.

Evans said the legal immigration process should be simplified so it's easier to understand.

He opposes deporting people who were brought to the U.S. as children and don't have legal immigration status, but said they should go through the citizenship process like any other applicant.

"To do anything else would be unfair to those who followed the law," Evans said.

Conversely, Hathaway-Altman, a corporate executive, said immigrants brought here illegally as kids should be allowed to speed through the citizenship process. "It's not their fault that they were caught up in this political Catch-22," she said.

Regardless, Hathaway-Altman voiced concern about illegal immigration and border control. Without being specific, she said the Biden administration's policies are "a clear and transparent attempt ... to harvest millions of votes."

Lauf, whose mother immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala, voiced concern about sex and drug trafficking resulting from illegal crossings at the southern border.

"We must provide law enforcement with the resources to do their job and secure our border, first and foremost," said Lauf, an adviser for a children's nutrition company and former U.S. Commerce Department adviser during President Donald Trump's administration.

As for immigrants brought here illegally as children, Lauf said they've been "used as political pawns by the Democrats for years."

"Before any policies are addressed on what happens to those who are here, we must secure the border first," said Lauf, who ran for the 14th District seat in 2020.

Tanner Miller, a domestic violence advocate making her first political bid, said the U.S. should launch a merit-based system for immigration.

She favors eliminating a lottery program that offers green cards to people living in countries with low rates of migration to the U.S., and she also wants to stop allowing existing immigrants from sponsoring other family members for admission, a process called family reunification or chain migration.

Additionally, people here illegally who commit crimes should be deported rather than jailed, Tanner Miller said.

The redrawn 11th District encompasses parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Boone counties.

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