Schneider, Ramirez Mukherjee debate immigration policies, racial issues and more in forum

Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield and Republican challenger Valerie Ramirez Mukherjee of Northbrook discussed immigration policies, racial issues and other topics Sunday in an online forum for 10th Congressional District voters.

Dubbed the North Shore Jewish Community Candidate Forum, the discussion was put together by Deerfield-based Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim.

In his opening remarks, Schneider touted his work for Jewish groups, talked of his experience on issues relating to Israel and pledged support - as he's done in the past - for a two-state solution to the strife between Israel and the Palestinian people.

Schneider, who is seeking a fourth term, also voiced support for more gun control laws, the need for financial relief for Americans during the COVID-19 crisis and the right of women to have abortions.

Ramirez Mukherjee, a first-time candidate, opened by noting she's a relatively new Illinoisan, having moved here only three years ago. She complained that no significant legislation has originated from Illinois - even though several proposals put forth by Illinois lawmakers have become law - and said she hopes she "can do my part to help."

When asked about racial injustice and anti-Semitism in the U.S., Schneider accused President Donald Trump of seeking to divide the country. Schneider said the U.S. must address the inequities experienced by certain communities, and he promoted his support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct and eliminate discriminatory policing practices.

The proposal passed the House in June and awaits action in the Senate.

In contrast, Ramirez Mukherjee expressed frustration with how Congress reacts to problems rather than being proactive. She urged Congress to be "more entrepreneurial" but didn't put forth any legislative proposals regarding discrimination.

Moving on, Schneider said the U.S. "desperately" needs comprehensive immigration reform, and he voiced support for a proposal that would defer deportation for some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and let them work. It passed the House last year but wasn't debated in the Senate.

"We have to be the light to other nations," Schneider said. "We need to get this done."

Whereas Schneider supports creating a path to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, Ramirez Mukherjee doesn't - and she maintained that position Sunday.

Ramirez Mukherjee said Americans should open their arms to immigrants, "but we have to do it legally."

When asked about climate change, Ramirez Mukherjee said she favors incentivizing green behavior, such as the now-expired federal tax credits for buying electric cars.

Schneider said he led the effort to condemn Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change and said the U.S. should rejoin that plan.

Through wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and crop damage, climate change is affecting every American in one way or another, "and we need to address it now," Schneider said.

A recording of the debate can be viewed at

The candidates for the neighboring 9th Congressional District seat - Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and Republican challenger Sargis Sangari of Skokie - debated first and are included in the video.

The two districts include different parts of the North and Northwest suburbs.

Schneider calls for tighter gun control laws, while Ramirez Mukherjee voices concerns

Both 10th Congressional District candidates call for national mask mandate

Congressional candidates for 10th District support expanded mail-in voting

Both candidates want to preserve, improve the Affordable Care Act

Republican questions cost of more relief

Candidates disagree on the Electoral College

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