Democratic congressional hopefuls discuss immigration, Muslims
Immigration reform and the rights of Muslim Americans were among the top issues Monday in a debate among the three Democrats running for the 8th Congressional District seat held by fellow Democrat Tammy Duckworth.
Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel, attorney and businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and state Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin compared credentials in a sparring match at the Addison Public Library that occasionally got testy -- particularly between Krishnamoorthi and Noland on some issues.
But the three Democrats were philosophically united enough to agree that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is one of the main reasons the temperature is rising in Washington, D.C., on immigration.
"The Donald Trump way of doing business is not the way I would ever do business," Bullwinkel said, specifically referring to Trump's plan to deport 11 million undocumented residents. "It's embarrassing that it's even being discussed."
She said trust needs to be established between the nation and its undocumented residents to allow them to become productive citizens.
Bullwinkel considers Villa Park, home to the largest mosque in DuPage County, a microcosm of the 8th District in its diversity. As mayor, she said she's been able to foster strong relationships among the village's residents.
"Hate doesn't get us anywhere," Bullwinkel said. "We see too much of that in the news every day."
Krishnamoorthi, who's the son of legal immigrants, said the welcoming inscription on the Statue of Liberty makes no distinctions of religion or ethnicity.
"You are as much an American as everyone else," he told a Hoffman Estates resident who raised the question of Muslim rights. "Donald Trump has really appealed to the worst instincts among Americans."
Krishnamoorthi said immigration reform is necessary to attract and retain the best talent in the world. He added that there's no point in sending brilliant university graduates back to other countries to build innovative companies there.
"We don't need to build walls; we need to build bridges of tolerance," Krishnamoorthi said.
Noland said he's the product of a progressive household in the 1960s and has tried to pass on that philosophy to his own 11-year-old son -- who recently had pointed words about Trump. He said he's proud to have raised a child who could already recognize what was wrong with Trump's approach to immigration.
"We have to make it clear we're not going to exclude people based on religion," Noland said.
Comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue, he added.
"Punching someone's ticket every 20 years isn't the answer," he said.
The three Democrats will face one another again at 7 p.m. Tuesday on WTTW Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight."
DuPage County Board member Pete DiCianni is the only candidate on the Republican ballot in the March 15 primary.
The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes parts of northwest Cook, northeast DuPage and northeast Kane counties.