Immigration Is Big Topic As 5th Cong. Dist. Candidates Turn Out

Craig Dellimore, WBBM-AM (Chicago), February 24, 2009

There’s just a week to go before the primary election to pick the Republican and Democrat candidates for the Congressional seat vacated by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Most of the crowded field turned out for a candidates forum on the Northwest Side last night.

Immigration was a major topic of the forum at Northeastern Illinois University, with Democratic candidates–like State Rep. John Fritchey–all saying they favor some path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

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Fellow state lawmaker Sara Feigenholtz says what’s needed is courage.

“It’s time in Washington that Democrats and Republicans work together and stop treating this like it’s the third rail of politics.”

Alderman Patrick O’Connor sought to use his City Council experience to distinguish himself.

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County Commissioner Mike Quigley took a similar path.

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There are about a dozen Democrats in the 5th District race.

Frank Annunzio led off the discussion on immigration reform calling for a path to citizenship. “I believe that the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants should be fast-tracked to citizenship.”

Dr. Paul Breyer agrees:

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Jan Donnatelli displayed her knowledge of the district:

“As much as 48.5 percent of our district speaks a language other than English at home so this question is absolutely critical to this district.”

Tom Geoghegan focused on education for immigrants:

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Most of the Republicans running for the seat formerly held by Rahm Emanuel said they, too, favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, in varying degrees.

Tom Hanson drew a line, saying he’s not for amnesty, but does favor Sen. John McCain’s proposals for a path to citizenship.

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Greg Bedell wants to slow immigration to this country, by helping other nations so immigrants will be less driven to come here.

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Daniel Kay wants to streamline immigration office operations.

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But, Republican Jon Stewart does favor amnesty.

“Why? We need to take their money, tax it, put it into the government rolls so we can have them help pay for the health care and the education that we are giving them.

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On immigration, Matt Reichels [Green Party candidate] took the bold approach, saying he’s for blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants.

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Mark Fredrickson [Green Party candidate] was less specific.

“At some point we have to define a law and decide to enforce it and I offer that for your consideration as we try to figure out what that law should be.”

Deb Gordils [Green Party candidate] gave her answer in Spanish for the diverse audience.

Simon Rebeiro says he, too, support’s amnesty.

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