Roskam, Kinzler disagree about walling off the border

  • Gordon "Jay" Kinzler, left, says the U.S. should build a wall along its southern border. U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam says a wall isn't needed.

    Gordon "Jay" Kinzler, left, says the U.S. should build a wall along its southern border. U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam says a wall isn't needed.


U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and his opponent for the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District, Gordon "Jay" Kinzler, both say more should be done to secure the nation's borders.

But they disagree about whether that should include building a wall along the southern border.

Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, has represented the 6th District -- which stretches from Naperville to Tower Lakes and includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties -- since 2007. Kinzler, a 57-year-old physician and surgeon, wants to change that by challenging Roskam in the March 15 GOP primary.

During a recent interview with the Daily Herald editorial board, Kinzler said the nation's borders must be secured for economic reasons.

"We can't afford it anymore," said Kinzler, who serves as a Glen Ellyn Park District commissioner. "There's breadwinners in families that can't find a job because there's a lot of people coming illegally into our country."

So Kinzler said he supports the idea of constructing a wall along the nation's southern border.

"I would build a wall," Kinzler said. "You need some type of a barrier so people aren't (moving freely) back and forth. And you need to enforce it."

Roskam said he has traveled to the border and met with border patrol agents. They explained to him that walls work in urban areas but not in open areas.

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"They (walls) don't make much sense out in the middle of nowhere," Roskam said. "They're just not particularly effective."

Instead of building a wall, Roskam said, Congress should revise laws that are preventing border patrol agents from doing their jobs. Agents, for example, are prohibited -- for environmental reasons -- from pursuing anyone on protected lands.

"Changing some of these laws so they have the capacity to do hot pursuit, particularly against the cartels, is really one of those areas where I think we could improve," Roskam said.

He also says the nation's visa-tracking system "is not up to speed" and needs to be improved. He also would like to see the creation of a guest worker program for low-wage workers. In addition, Roskam said "high-skilled" individuals from other countries should be encouraged to stay here.


"The idea that somebody gets a Ph.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology and they move back to India is crazy," he said. "We should (give them) a green card and say, 'Move to Wheaton next to the Roskams and start building your company, because we want it here.'"

Kinzler said he wants "intense vetting" of anyone entering the country. While he doesn't support deporting everyone who has illegally entered the country, Kinzler said those who are felons should be sent back.

Meanwhile, he said he doesn't have faith that everyone in Congress wants to fix the problem.

"Not doing anything is the worst solution," Kinzler said. "You have to do something. To me, sending the same guys back (to Washington, D.C.) over and over again -- who just talk but don't get anything done -- is not the solution."

Whoever wins the Republican primary will face the Democratic nominee in the November general election. The Democrats running in the primary are Amanda Howland of Lake Zurich and Robert Marshall of Burr Ridge.

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