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Roskam slams illegal immigration practices
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/29/2008 12:02 AM

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From the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam said Illinois' lax laws are drawing a flood of illegal immigrants to the Chicago region.

"We are becoming a magnet for illegal immigration," Roskam said from Nogales, Arizona in a telephone conference with district residents Monday night.

Roskam singled out an Illinois law that bans employers from using the E-Verify system, which is intended to help businesses certify if an employee is a legal resident.

"It creates in (illegal immigrants) the expectation that if you make it to Illinois you are home free," Roskam said of the ban.

Critics contend the Social Security number-based database is fraught with inaccuracies that can lead to citizens losing jobs. The Illinois ban signed last year is not being enforced as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security contests it in federal court.

The increased focus on immigration issues comes as Roskam is facing a likely tough challenge from Iraq war veteran Jill Morgenthaler, a Des Plaines Democrat.

Morgenthaler was Blagojevich's point person on public safety and homeland security between late 2005 and late 2007.

Roskam won his seat in a high-cost battle two years ago against Tammy Duckworth, in part, by slamming her as weak on illegal immigrants.

Morgenthaler, meanwhile, frames the debate as a key component of national security.

"Before we come up with any program we have to secure our borders and we just haven't done that," Morgenthaler said, stressing the U.S. has borders aside from the one with Mexico.

The retired Army Reserve colonel said she does support the E-Verify program, but is concerned about its accuracy. She said the decision is ultimately up to the federal courts.

Morgenthaler also supports reform that offers a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria and pay a fine.

In Monday's conference call, Roskam told residents of the 6th Congressional District that he has pushed to limit benefits for illegal immigrates, including drivers licenses, health care and the constitutional birthright to citizenship.

The district includes segments of Dupage and Cook counties, including Mount Prospect, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Elk Grove Village, Wheaton, Lombard, Roselle and Villa Park.