Illinois 14th Congressional District Candidate Forum

14th Congressional
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14th Congressional District Forum

On Saturday, the League of Women Voters hosted a virtual Illinois 14th Congressional District Forum to hear from the candidates running in the general election on November 3 this year.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (Democrat) and her challenger, Illinois State Senator (Republican) Jim Oberweis each had up to one minute to answer questions. Topics included health insurance, climate change and whether the U.S should rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and whether the candidates consider tech giants to be media companies.

Immigration System

One question addressed the nation’s immigration system: What piece of the immigration system do you believe needs to be addressed most urgently?

UNDERWOOD: “Immigrants are vital to the cultural fabric and the economic success of our Northern Illinois community and to our country as a whole. And I co-sponsored the American Dream of Promise Act which passed the House of Representatives in order to provide a path to lawful, permanent residence status for dreamers who lived much of their lives in our country and who have made our country their home. I also voted in favor of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to streamline the temporary worker program and ensure our local businesses have access to the skilled workers that they need. I’ve also consistently held the Trump administration accountable for their inhumane family separation policy and I traveled to the border multiple times to provide oversight over this outrageous humanitarian crisis at the border.”

OBERWEIS: “I am a strong proponent of immigration, legal immigration. But I’m a fierce opponent of illegal immigration because it’s unfair to those who follow our system. At Oberweis Dairy we’ve used E-Verify for about 14 or 15 years basically since it was available. That allows a company to check or to verify that an employee is here legally and I think all companies should be required to use that or to at least have that as a safe harbor if they do turn out to hire some people who are here illegally. I also do support providing a path to citizenship for those kids who came here illegally, but have been raised here in this country because we don’t hold kids responsible for mistakes of their parents. But those parents should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. They could get a visa that would allow them to stay here, a non-immigrant visa, but not a path to citizenship.”

Systemic Racism

Another question addressed systemic racism: What are you doing to educate yourself about systemic racism and what can be done to eliminate it from our culture and legal system?

OBERWEIS: “I’ve been working very closely with Pastor Corey Brooks in Chicago. His Project HOOD is designed to get kids off the street, out of gangs, and away from drugs. I have been supporting him not only financially but with my time with serving on his board of advisors for that program and I’ll continue to do so because I think it’s truly a great program that needs to be expanded. It’s clear that there has been some racial unfairness over a period of time. We need to do everything we can to resolve that. I do talk to him about that, he does share his ideas, and I’ll continue to work to try to improve that.”

UNDERWOOD: “It’s come to the floor this summer with the peaceful protests that we’ve seen and the affirmations that black lives matter. I’ve been a leader on maternal mortality. We know that the United States continues to lead the industrialized world in maternal deaths. And we know that African Americans in our state are six times more likely to die as a result of childbirth. It is wrong and we can take action now to save lives. I’ve been a leader on that effort. We also know that there are many disparities when you look across education, housing, economic issues where people of color continue to lag behind white people in this country. And I think that as we continue forward centering this conversation we’re going to be able to make great progress in this area.”

You can watch the full candidate forum here.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.