The Democratic candidates for Illinois’ 13th Congressional district discussed foreign policy and immigration issues at an event Monday night in Champaign.
The four candidates agreed that Congress must act now to create a pathway to citizenship for those enrolled in the DACA program.
The candidates expressed frustrations over Congress’ failure to secure legal status for so-called Dreamers who were brought here illegally as children.
“If we don’t get this done, we’re talking about deporting people to places they’ve never been," said Erik Jones, a former Illinois assistant attorney general from Edwardsville. "And that is abominable.”
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a former fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, said the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the DACA case allows the program to continue for now, and provides a reprieve for those in the DACA program.
But she said, "it’s not an answer to comprehensive immigration reform.”
Jon Ebel, a University of Illinois religion professor, and David Gill, an emergency room physician from Bloomington, agreed that the time to create a clear path to citizenship for Dreamers is now.
Meanwhile, Ebel, who is also a former naval intelligence officer, was surprised that this was the first forum for the Democratic candidates that discussed foreign policy issues.
"That’s a little bit stunning because there’s so much going on in the world that is impacting our lives,” Ebel said.
Ebel and the other candidates largely agreed on issues pertaining to immigration reform and the Russia investigation, but had differing views on border security and whether the U.S. should withdraw troops from the Middle East and North Africa.
The candidates forum was hosted by the Champaign County Young Democrats and moderated by WDWS radio host Elizabeth Hess.
A fifth candidate, Angel Sides of Springfield, did not take part in Monday night's forum.
The Democratic nominee will face U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, in November.
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