Foster, Senger disagree on immigration approach

  • Democratic incumbent Bill Foster, left, and Republican challenger Darlene Senger have different views on immigration reform as they pursue a congressional seat in the 11th District.

    Democratic incumbent Bill Foster, left, and Republican challenger Darlene Senger have different views on immigration reform as they pursue a congressional seat in the 11th District.

Posted10/7/2014 5:30 AM

Unlike some of her Republican counterparts, 11th U.S. Congressional District hopeful Darlene Senger says she's open to immigration reform that would give people access to education and the chance to "be part of our country."

The Naperville Republican, who currently serves as state representative for the 41st District, said she feels her stance on immigration jives with the residents of the 11th District, which covers parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties, including Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge and Joliet.


Senger, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Foster of Naperville in the Nov. 4 election, recently voted for a state DREAM act that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain private scholarships and enroll in state savings programs.

She also supported a bill to allow undocumented immigrants the right to obtain a driver's license.

"Those are the policies we need to put in place for individuals that have come to this country, for the same reason that we're all here, for the opportunities," she said.

But Foster blames a Republican -- Speaker of the House John Boehner -- for being the main reason federal immigration reform has not moved forward.

"It's actually frustrating, and not a great show of strength of our democracy, that something that is supported by a majority of Americans, supported by businesses, the chamber of commerce, churches, the majority of members of both parties, has not even gotten a vote and it has to do with internal caucus politics," he said.

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Foster said he believes a significant fraction of the Republican caucus is telling Boehner they're not going to vote for him to continue serving as Speaker if he allows immigration reform to come for a vote.

"He cares more about his power in the party than he does about the good of the country," Foster said.

Foster also disagrees with Republicans who want to take a "piece by piece" approach to reforming immigration.

"First off, they haven't done it. We haven't seen any of the pieces come up for a vote. The closest they've come is to repeal the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the executive DREAM act, which is not exactly a step forward," he said.

Instead, he is a proponent for comprehensive immigration reform because he feels there are several issues that can't be separated, such as workplace enforcement and the path to citizenship.


Senger, on the other hand, said the first step to immigration reform is to secure the border -- an issue that Foster agreed needs to be part of the comprehensive plan.

"We do need to make sure the border situation is taken care of. I mean, that's number one," she said. "Once we shore up the border, then we can put in a solution and a path that is reasonable to citizenship."

She said she would like to see improvements to the visa process so it is simpler and more comprehensive for people who come to the United States on a temporary basis or get their education here.

"You have to be fair to everyone, including those who are already here," she said, adding that creating a path to gaining legal status needs to be "thought through carefully and reasonably."

When asked if her stance on immigration was different from mainstream Republicans, Senger said she believes there are more Republicans in favor of "some path to legalizing citizens" than most people think.

But Foster said while many Republicans in U.S. Congress have said they support the principle of immigration reform, they didn't support a petition to bring the Senate bill to a vote.

"You actually, in this case, have to look at not what people say, but the way they vote," he said.

He believes action on immigration reform could still happen in a lame duck session, but it will depend on which party gets a good result in the coming election.

"There are lots of things in the Senate bill that give me heartburn," he said.

"It's not an easy 'yes' vote because there are so many things I'd like to improve. But I would be willing to vote for it."

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