CHICAGO - What exactly did U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis say about immigration to the members of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition Wednesday afternoon? Did he say he was for amnesty along with a pathway to citizenship? Oberweis historically has had a firm position favoring legal immigration. Did that change and what is he now saying?
The Oberweis campaign provided Senator Oberweis' comments for review:
It is an honor to be with you today, to talk about our broken immigration system. I congratulate the business community of Illinois for its leadership in trying to find workable solutions.
As most here know, I have been perceived as a hawk on the issue of illegal immigration. Early on I spoke out forcefully about the need to secure our borders, and to bring immigration in this country under the rule of law.
I regret the harsh tone of my rhetoric 10 years ago, but my principles remain intact. Across the political spectrum there is now consensus that our borders must be secured. Since 2001, the number of border patrol agents has increased from 9100 to 21,000, net new illegal immigration has dropped to almost 0; and the Senate immigration bill which passed with bi-partisan support last year and which adds an additional $40 billion in border security could help lead to discussion on true reform. But more is needed.
Our borders must be secured, illegal immigration must be halted, and we need to implement mandatory E verify and entry anti exit biometrics.
But supporting secure borders is not the same as being anti-immigrant. We have heard how our Illinois economy depends on both high skill and low skill immigrants. We have also heard of the moral urgency of finding solutions from Isabella and Liz.
No true family values conservative can support a broken system that unnecessarily destroys families. I believe that children brought here illegally who have grown up in this country should be given a clear path to citizenship.
I believe that the parents who entered our country illegally should not be given amnesty or a shortened path to citizenship. I believe they should be offered non-immigrant visas to allow them to stay in this country legally so as to not break up families, should be allowed to return to their home countries and reenter the U.S., to work legally and pay taxes but should not be allowed access to government entitlements without becoming citizens. They should not be moved to the front of the line but rather apply for citizenship like anyone else.
Illinois can be a state that is willing to lead on pragmatic, humane, and hi-partisan solutions to fix our broken immigration system. I hope that, as a recognized leader on this issue, I can help bring the two sides together. I hope, as the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition does, that we can find hi-partisan agreement soon to bring about the reform we all favor.
Oberweis' words in context convey a message differing from those reported by various news sources. Oberweis' comments reflect a concern for families divided by their immigration status, but commitment to border security.