With buses carrying migrants from the Texas-Mexico border having reached even suburban Elk Grove Village two weeks ago, Democratic congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and Republican challenger Chris Dargis of Palatine offered views on long-term and immediate reforms to U.S. immigration policy.
The two hopefuls for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District seat spoke before representatives of the Daily Herald Editorial Board ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
Krishnamoorthi said the current problems are a direct result of a lack of comprehensive reform that is leaving both the legal immigration system and the border broken.
“The reason that we need to have a national fix is to avoid these situations where Texas or Elk Grove Village or Chicago or others get involved in the immigration business,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Krishnamoorthi said he supports a bipartisan package others have brought forward that would address the border problem in a few ways, including adding more personnel, physical barriers and sensor technology.
“And then we also need to deal with a new development that we’ve never dealt with before, which is we have people who are arriving at the border who are not trying to evade capture, they’re trying to be captured by (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) and seeking asylum,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Dargis said the topic hits close to home for him not only because so many residents of the 8th District are immigrants, but also because his mother, maternal grandparents and wife immigrated to the U.S. as well.
“All legal immigrants,” he clarified. “All of them following the rules and the laws that apply to the United States. And when you see this lawless breakdown as we currently do at the border, I mean first and foremost it’s leading to so many other problems in this country.”
Dargis cited an influx of crime and drugs that affect U.S. citizens as well as leaving the undocumented immigrants themselves vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by cartels and human traffickers.
“It continues because of the policies of the Biden administration and allies of his in Congress, where we’ve removed the policies, the remain in Mexico policy. We’ve removed Title 42,” he said. “Even though the governor of this state has maintained his emergency powers under COVID, we have not maintained them at the border. And we have allowed millions of illegal aliens to cross our border. And of course they’re turning themselves into the border patrol because they know nothing will happen to them.”
Dargis added that the consequences of such permissive practices are being felt in more places than just the border.
“There are zero repercussions to crossing the border illegally, and we’re seeing this strain community resources as in the situation in which Chicago is now sending illegal aliens to our suburban communities,” Dargis said. “We’re seeing it fuel crime and drug crises in this country, and ultimately it’s going to hurt the poor and the working class in this country which is something that just can’t continue.”
Krishnamoorthi said he agrees with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas that the country must revisit its asylum laws and availability of resources to promptly assess the claims of asylum-seekers, turning them away if they don’t qualify.
“But we don’t want a situation where (border protection personnel) are not able to keep up with what’s happening,” Krishnamoorthi said. “Especially in Central America, we have to help deal with the source of the problem. As you know, there’s a lot of corruption as well as gangs over there who are doing everything they can to transport migrants to our border, and we have to deal with them at the source.”
The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes areas of northwest Cook, northeast DuPage and northeast Kane counties.