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Integration or Deportation? Congressional Candidates Spar on Immigration Reform

Robert Dold, the Republican candidate for Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, said immigration is “100 percent a federal government issue” and cited increased drug trafficking as a major problem at the Mexican border.

At a debate held in Glencoe last Thursday, illegal immigration was a topic over which Dold and Democratic candidate Dan Seals disagreed.

“As much as it’s about who’s working in our country, it’s also very much about national security,” Dold said. “Let’s not forget we are in the midst of a war on terror, that there are people out there who do not like us because of the freedoms we enjoy.”

Democratic candidate Dan Seals said he also thinks that securing the Mexican border is critical, but unlike Dold, who favors building a fence along the border, Seals supports increased border patrols.

Seals also said that Dold had not addressed the issue of undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the United States.

“A lot of people say, let’s pull them out of their beds and ship them off somehow. I don’t know how you can do that. How much would you spend to do that?” he said.

Seals vowed to crack down on companies and businesses that hire undocumented immigrants. His plan for reform would also have undocumented immigrants pay a fee for being in the country illegally, undergo a criminal background check, and be able to  demonstrate financial independence.

When asked about his political stance on the Dream Act, legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to remain in the U.S. conditionally, Dold said he thought it was a step in the right direction.

“I would like to see come changes made. I’d like to see it going from two years to three years. I’d like to see the military and AmeriCorps or something else like that and then allow them to go into education after that,” Dold said.

Currently the Dream Act requires only two years completion of college or two years of military service in order to be eligible for conditional permanent residency.

Seals spokeswoman Aviva Gibbs said while Seals supports the tenets of the Dream Act, he believes the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act (CIR ASAP) is the first step for undocumented immigrants seeking citizenship.

The Dream Act legislation is actually a part of the CIR ASAP bill; however, instead of being offered only to minors, CIR would extend conditional residency to all eligible undocumented immigrants.

Dold’s views on immigration mirror those of Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, who voted for the Secure Fence Act, legislation that increased border surveillance and required fencing and additional barriers to be installed along the Mexican border. Kirk has represented Illinois’ 10th District for the past decade.

A recent nationwide poll by Quinnipiac University asked 1,905 registered voters for their opinions on immigration reform. The question asked, “Do you think immigration reform should primarily move in the direction of integrating illegal immigrants into American society, or in the direction of stricter enforcement of laws against illegal immigration?”

Only 24 percent were in favor of integration; 68 percent said they favored stricter enforcement of existing immigration laws.

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