Republican candidates in District 11 debate Gaza Strip, migrants

Voting cover
Donate Today

Three Republican congressional candidates for District 11 debated several issues facing the United States during a virtual forum on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

The hour-long event was hosted by the League of Women Voters Naperville (LWVN). Attendees included Jerry Evans, Susan Hathaway-Altman, and O. Kent Mercado.

Candidates voice support for Israel

During the forum, each candidate offered their opinions on the war in the Gaza Strip.

Mercado supportted military aid for Israel because he believes the country is “the most important and strongest ally” in the region.

O. Kent Mercado

“(Israel) is the only democracy in the Middle East, and it helps us promote stability in the region and advance our interests as a country,” said Mercado. “As far as the Palestinian people, I support humanitarian aid, but certainly not for Hamas.”

Hathaway-Altman said she backs Israel, but doesn’t support continued U.S. involvement in the war.

“I do not support Palestinian aid because I believe the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are doing a pretty good job,” said Hathaway-Altman. “We need to stop participating in proxy wars and stop being involved in intervening because that is not what the Constitution of the United States says.”

Evans also is on Israel’s side but wants to ensure U.S. funds are spent wisely in the Middle East.

“Hamas’ desire is to go ahead and eliminate Israel and murder innocent people,” said Evans. “I do believe we should support Israel. We need to have proper accountability with any funds that we give. We need to have proper checks and balances to make sure the money is being used properly.”

Migrant influx at the border

Later in the debate, candidates answered how they would best deal with the migrant influx at the southern border.

Susan Hathaway-Altman

Susan Hathaway-Altman

Hathaway-Altman said she felt sympathy for migrants, as they’ve been given “a false narrative” about coming to the United States.

“They’re saying, ‘You can have this great life in the United States and everybody can come,’” said Hathaway-Altman. “Every country must have borders… we don’t want people that aren’t assimilated to the United States of America. That’s why we have immigration laws and we need to enforce our current immigration laws.”

Evans offered solutions for the federal government to deal with the issue.

Jerry Evans

Jerry Evans

“We simply don’t have enough border patrol agents, and we don’t have the right type of policies to help them… I believe we need to have asylum adjudication while someone is in custody within 72 hours,” said Evans. “If they have a valid asylum claim, then we go and help them transition as they come to the country.”

Mercado criticized several current immigration practices in the U.S.

“We have to end chain migration, that’s where families of the families of the families get to keep coming in,” said Mercado. “We need to end to visa lottery. We need to e-verify who these people are who are coming and if they are who they say they are. And I absolutely oppose amnesty.”

Other debate topics included the war in Ukraine, gun control, and climate change. The full forum is available on the LWVN Facebook page.

Illinois’s 11th Congressional District seat is currently held by Democratic Rep. Bill Foster. He faces a challenge in his party from Qasim Rashid. 

The Republican and Democratic primary elections are set for March 19.

Photo courtesy: Jerry Evans for Congress, Susan Hathaway-Altman for Congress, and Dr. Kent Mercado for Congress.

If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!