14th Congressional District candidates not fans of Mexican border wall
Illinois is one of six states that draw the majority of the United States' undocumented immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center. And while a declining number of those immigrants are from Mexico, protecting the United States' southern border is an issue where the candidates for 14th Congressional District disagree.
Incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren's immigration views haven't changed since his 2014 campaign. Despite the emphasis Donald Trump places on the construction of a physical wall on the southern border, Hultgren believes improved technology is a better answer. He supports a biometric entry/exit system, which is already required by law but never created.
"I am open to a physical border if it is necessary to protect American sovereignty," Hultgren said. But he emphasized half the problem with undocumented immigrants involves people overstaying visas.
Jim Walz, the Democratic candidate, also favors the use of technology at the border, but not the construction of a wall. Thermal imaging, movement sensors and high-grade cameras are all good tools, but he would stop at any "further militarization of our border communities."
In contrast, Hultgren has supported the transfer of excess equipment from the Department of Defense for use at the border.
Both candidates agree enforcement must also occur at the businesses that hire undocumented immigrants. Hultgren said Congress must ensure businesses "respect our nation's laws and American workers" by using electronic verification systems to verify the legal status of job applicants. Walz favors the creation of "whistle-blower visas" to encourage workers at businesses hiring undocumented workers to report such violations.
"Immigrant workers are regularly abused by their employers but do not report such abuses due to fear of deportation," Walz said. "It's not that we have a problem with illegal immigrants; it's that we have a problem with illegal immigrant employment."
Walz does not support deportation for the majority of the 11 million undocumented residents. He supports the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship and access to higher education for undocumented youths who grew up in the U.S. As far as the rest of the undocumented residents, Walz, like Hultgren, would focus on the deportation of violent criminals.
Hultgren said the existing deportation system works when local police detain undocumented residents they find and report them to the federal government. Sanctuary cities, which don't report undocumented residents for possible deportation, are "breaking the law, making it harder to remove criminals and putting American lives at risk," Hultgren said.
Whether coming across the border or overstaying visas, Hultgren said he will not accept amnesty of any kind for undocumented residents.
"The undocumented must get right with the law, admit their guilt, and pay necessary fines and back taxes," Hultgren said. "But doing this will not ensure they can stay. Productive members of society must go through the legal process to obtain proper status."