Congressman Peter Roskam came to Naperville Wednesday to meet with chamber of commerce members about reforming the country's tax code.
Outside the doors of Cress Creek Country Club, where the $35-a-plate luncheon was taking place, more than a dozen protesters urged him to talk about something else.
Citizen Action Illinois members, angry with Roskam's continued opposition to the Affordable Care Act, demanded an explanation on one side of the driveway while protesters angry with his refusal to support the Senate's Boarder Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act marched on the other side.
John Gaudette, director of Citizen Action Illinois, urged Roskam to stop calling the Affordable Care Act a "disaster" and to instead throw his support behind it.
"It certainly can't be a disaster to the 5,200 young adults (in the district) who will be able to get health care on their parents' health care system. It's not going to be a disaster to the 93,000 people in this district that will be able to buy insurance on the exchange, including 40,000 of those with pre-existing conditions who can't get health insurance today," Gaudette said. "(Roskam) does not stand for his constituency and we're going to keep making noise until he changes his mind and gets out of the way of progress and allows the law to take effect before making changes he wants."
Across the driveway, Glen Kanwit of Evanston joined about a dozen immigrants urging Roskam to support the Senate immigration bill.
"We're here for immigration reform. My daughter is a naturalized citizen we adopted from Mexico. We have an undocumented worker in our house who has been exploited ever since she got into this country," Kanwit said. "We have to bring these people into the system so they can pay taxes, stop getting exploited and become citizens of this country that they're going to be living in for the rest of their lives."
Inside, Roskam kept the focus squarely on reforming the country's tax code to improve its clarity until he was derailed by an unidentified protester who entered the room to push him on the other issues.
Roskam then addressed the issues, but not before Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce President Mike Evans chided the woman and reminded the audience the chamber has led the local charge for immigration reform.
"The United States Senate passed Obamacare and it was shoehorned through the House of Representatives and then signed by President Obama," Roskam said. "It's been a huge disappointment. It's been a huge disaster ... You're not going to be able to keep your doctor. It's having an adverse effect on job growth."
The "exact same process that created Obamacare" created the Senate immigration bill, he said. Roskam said the first priority should be to control the border while also "dealing with the visa and guest worker programs."
"I accept at face value the incredible growth that comes from a very dynamic immigrant community. It is completely ridiculous that we have a student who goes to the Illinois Institute of Technology, gets a Ph.D. and we chase him home," Roskam said. "That's crazy. We should be stapling their green card. We need an immigration system that is focused on the needs of the United States and how we create a growth agenda. I think the Senate immigration bill really falls miserably short."
The protesting organizations plan to appear at various times throughout the next week outside Roskam's district office, at 2700 International Drive in West Chicago.