11th Congressional District Democratic nominee: Bill Foster
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Democratic incumbent Bill Foster is the Chicago Sun-Times’ endorsed candidate in the 11th Congressional District race.
On Sept. 17, Democrat Bill Foster appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Watch the video above to find out why he’s running for re-election to Illinois’ 11th District Congressional seat in the 2018 general election.
The Chicago Sun-Times also sent the candidates seeking the 11th Congressional District seat in Illinois a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their district and the country. Foster submitted the following responses:
As a member of the U.S. House, what are or would be your top cause or causes?
Foster: As a Member of the U.S. House, I will continue to fight for affordable and accessible health care for all Americans and growing our economy. The Affordable Care Act has given millions of Americans access to health insurance and ensured that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. It has also extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. Despite Republican efforts to sabotage it, I continue to hear from my constituents about how important the ACA has been for them and their families. That’s why I have fought against the Republican-led Congress’s attempt to repeal the ACA, and I will continue to fight against efforts to sabotage it. We need to improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act rather than take away access to life-saving care.
I also believe we need to do more to make the economy work for everyone. Our economy continues to build on the gains we made during President Obama’s time in office, but too many Americans are still struggling. While we continue to add jobs at the same rate as under President Obama, wages are no longer rising faster than inflation, and too many Americans hold crushing levels of student debt. I am committed to a fair tax code, in which millionaires, billionaires, and corporations pay their fair share, and policies that will support entrepreneurship and the opportunity to earn a living wage.
I opposed the Republican tax bill, which was a giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and large corporations. I am committed to helping the hardworking families who built the American middle class, not giving more to those who do not need it. Hardworking Americans deserve an economy that works for them.
Please list three highly specific needs of your district that you would make priorities.
Foster: I will continue my work to address the opioid crisis, bring needed infrastructure spending to Illinois, and protect the DREAMers.
The opioid crisis has ravaged communities across the country, and the Eleventh District of Illinois has been no exception. I have proposed policies that would expand the availability of naloxone and improve access to medical treatment for opioid dependency. I am proud that the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Lab in my district has helped us understand how addiction changes the brain, so we can begin to treat opioid dependency as a medical condition rather than a moral failure. We can help our friends and family who struggle with dependency recover and live full and productive lives when we recognize that they need medical treatment and have policies at the federal level that help them get that treatment.
I am also committed to fighting for infrastructure funding in my district. Illinois loses $40 billion each year to other states because we pay far more in federal taxes than we get back in federal spending. Infrastructure spending is a major driver of this problem. I have introduced legislation that would change the unfair formula for the allocation of highway funding so that it reflects a state’s population rather than merely carrying forward antiquated allocations that favor states with low populations. We need to use this money to repair our roads and bridges that people use every day to get to work and school. We also need to widen I-80, a major thoroughfare for interstate shipping, that suffers from a critical bottleneck as it passes south of Joliet. This issue has become more important as Will County has developed into the largest inland port in the country.
Lastly, I will continue my work on immigration reform, including creating a path to citizenship for the DREAMers, who came to this country through no fault of their own. The United States is the only home many of them have ever known. In my district, they are community leaders and college students who contribute greatly to our country. President Trump’s decision to rescind protections to these young people is cruel and will have a devastating impact on the lives of the nearly 800,000 young people, and over 42,000 in Illinois, who have benefitted from the DACA program. This decision will also greatly harm our economy. Studies have found that DREAMers add $460 billion of economic impact to our national GDP.
I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, improves our legal immigration system, unites families, and provides an earned path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who currently live in fear of deportation. But we need to protect these members of our society who are American in every way but on paper.
Who is Bill Foster?
Congressional District: IL-11
Political/civic background: Elected US Congress for IL-14 – 2008 to 2011, Elected US Congress for IL-11 2013 – present
Occupation: Scientist and businessman
- BA, University of Wisconsin
- PhD, Harvard University
Campaign website: www.billfoster.com
Twitter handle: Foster4Congress
Recent news: Bill Foster
Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in the House. What would you do about that?
Foster: Despite the divisiveness of the last two years, I have worked with my Republican colleagues to get several pieces of legislation passed by the House of Representatives, including several pieces of legislation that President Trump signed into law that will help grow the economy and help end the opioid crisis. I have partnered with Republicans to write legislation to address the opioid crisis that has claimed too many of our friends right here in Illinois and across the country. Last May, I worked with my Republican counterparts to pass legislation that would provide access to inpatient treatment services for pregnant and postpartum women as they receive treatment for opioid dependency.
I have also introduced bipartisan legislation to help make our patent system more efficient. Innovation is a critical component of a strong economy, and this piece of legislation will help foster new ideas. The Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patent Act would implement reforms to the current patent system through improvement of the administrative review proceedings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It would also allow the Federal Trade Commission to target firms that take advantage of startups, lowering the number of abusive demand letters. I also introduced the bipartisan Better Energy and Storage (BEST) Act to support the creation of three public-private partnership projects to develop energy storage that can adequately support our electrical grid.
I have also worked with my Republican colleagues to improve the stability of the financial system, help to combat the financing of terrorism and organized crime, and improve the transparency and responsiveness of financial regulators so that we do see another financial crisis again.
Are you convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in support of the candidacy of Donald Trump? Please explain.
Foster: I agree with the unanimous consensus of our intelligence community that Russia did meddle in the 2016 presidential election. The details revealed in Special Counsel Mueller’s indictment of the 13 Russians for election interference make it absolutely clear that it was the Kremlin who intervened, and that they intervened to support Donald Trump. I also take Vladimir Putin at his word when he said he preferred President Trump’s victory, which he made clear during the national embarrassment that was the Helsinki meeting between President Trump and Putin.
Do you support the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller? Please explain.
Foster: I strongly support this investigation. It has already resulted in dozens of indictments and several plea bargains and convictions, including the President’s campaign manager, former national security adviser, and personal attorney. Special counsel Mueller is a man of the utmost integrity who has been trusted to run the FBI by Presidents of both parties. I support his investigation to get the facts. The American people deserve to know no less than the complete set of facts surrounding the President’s election and relationship with Russia, but we also owe it to the future of our democracy to uncover the truth.
If President Trump were to fire Mueller, directly or indirectly, what should Congress do?
Foster: Such a brazen act would be a de facto admission of guilt and should be unacceptable to members of both parties. If President Trump fires special counsel Mueller, Congress should immediately act to protect evidence gathered by his investigation, and to the extent possible under the Constitution, undo the firing. Congress should also hold hearings on the Administration’s decision making process that led to the firing. I would call upon my Republican colleagues to, finally, put country over party and hold the President accountable.
If Trump were to pardon his former campaign aide Paul Manafort, what should Congress do?
Foster: Congress should assert its role as a separate, co-equal branch of government and put a check on the Executive Branch. The Constitution does not limit the Presidential pardon power, but it does create a system in which the Congress can demand accountability from the President even when exercising permitted powers. A Presidential pardon for a convicted political crony who committed hugely consequential crimes would be a gross abuse of power.
Which three actions taken so far by the Trump administration do you most strongly support?
Foster: I support the Administration’s efforts to bring the electronics supply chain back to the United States, to protect our intellectual property from theft by China, and to finally nominate a technically qualified individual to head the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The Trump Administration has made various proposals intended to bring the supply chain for electronics back to reliable allies that respect democracy, intellectual property, and individual freedom. The electronics supply chain has important implications for our national security, because it is an unacceptable security risk to have the technological products that our country depends on manufactured in countries that are not our allies and do not respect the same standards that we do. Although this is a worthwhile goal that I support, the Administration has so far accomplished little. I look forward to working on this issue in a bipartisan manner and encourage the Administration to do more.
I support the Administration’s efforts to protect U.S. intellectual property from theft by China. China has stolen intellectual property from American businesses for decades. As a businessman who has conducted business in China, I know well the abuses of American intellectual property. I support any efforts to protect American intellectual property in China. Unfortunately, the President has undermined his own efforts by launching a poorly thought out trade war that alienates our allies and does not encourage cooperation from the Chinese government. Cooperation with our allies who support the rule of law will be critical to successfully protecting intellectual property.
Finally, the nomination of Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier as Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy is very encouraging. Dr. Droegemeier is eminently qualified, and I am pleased that there may finally be some attention paid to scientific expertise by this Administration. It is my hope that the President will listen to Dr. Droegemeier and other technically qualified individuals who can assist with science policies in the White House.
Which three actions taken by the Trump administration do you most strongly disagree with?
Foster: I strongly disagree with the Trump Administration’s attacks on health care, his racist and harmful immigration policies, and his xenophobic and incompetently executed trade wars.
The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to health care to millions of Illinoisans. Despite its success, President Trump and the Republican-led Congress continues to attack it and find ways to sabotage it. His proposals would eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions and water down the coverage available to millions of Americans. The Republican attacks on the ACA have caused premiums to increase and threatened the availability of plans on the insurance marketplaces in many places across the country. We need to improve and strengthen the ACA so we can expand access to better health care and keep costs low.
I also strongly condemn President Trump’s immigration policies and rhetoric. His rhetoric and policies on immigration have been racist and offensive from the moment he declared his candidacy for office. On the campaign trail, he called Mexicans murderers and rapists and proposed a divisive, expensive, and unnecessary wall on our southern border. Once in office, his Muslim travel ban was discriminatory, justified by imaginary facts and falsehoods, and created chaos at airports across the country and around the world. President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program that allowed young people who were brought here as children through no fault of their own to attend school and work provided they had no criminal record and were employed. Over the summer, the Administration adopted a zero tolerance policy for families lawfully seeking asylum, separating families at the border and losing children in the foster care system. Each of these actions have hurt our standing in the world as a beacon of hope for anyone who seeks safety from violence and oppression.
Finally, I strongly disagree with President Trump’s poorly planned, unjustifiable and damaging trade wars with virtually every one of our trading partners. He has even imposed tariffs on Canada over alleged national security concerns. This path is wrong and misguided. We need fair multilateral trade deals, but they can only be achieved through even-tempered negotiations based on economic facts. President Trump’s tit-for-tat approach to tariffs threatens economic growth globally and ignores the diplomatic and national security role that trade has played since the United States became a global superpower. It also ignores the risks of currency manipulation has imposed on our manufacturers and farmers.
In Illinois, we have a lot of hardworking Americans who rely on industries that will be adversely affected by workers who earn a living through domestic manufacturing. Our farmers rely on thoughtful government policies that keep foreign markets open to U.S. agricultural exports. The failure of the Trump Administration to adopt coherent trade policies limits our potential for future economic growth and our role as a leader in the international community.
On a recent visit to Lyon LLC, which is located in my district, I learned firsthand of the effects that President Trump’s poorly thought out trade policies are having on businesses in our district. Lyon is a firm that manufactures lockers and metal products for schools and businesses. President Trump’s tariffs have been applied to the imported steel they use, but not to the steel content of competing manufactured products imported from China. This is one example of how President Trump’s incompetent tariff policies are creating a disincentive to manufacture in America, hurting American businesses and their ability to compete.
The Trump administration has taken action to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at curbing climate change and limiting environmental pollution. The administration has done so in the name of supporting business growth and making the United States more energy self-sufficient. Most notably, the administration has begun to dismantle Obama’s federal rules over American coal plants, weakened automobile fuel-economy standards and ended American participation in the Paris climate agreement. What is your take on all this?
Foster: As the only PhD scientist in Congress, I have been deeply concerned for a long time about the anti-science and fact-free rhetoric of both Republicans in Congress, and now our President. This trend has resulted in bad policies that have undercut economic growth, reduced potential for new medical treatments through sustained federal investment in research, and denied the reality and the need to respond to climate change.
We need to protect our environment for future generations. The advancements of the twentieth century have greatly improved our standard of living, but have also at times had negative impacts on our environment. We need to innovate and meet economically sound air and water standards that will protect our environment.
The evidence is clear that climate change is real and largely man-made. The Paris Climate Agreement was a historic moment for the international community to cut carbon emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures. Automobile fuel standards attack a large contributor to the pollution in our atmosphere that drives climate change. I am confident in the ability of our automobile engineers to meet the most ambitious of goals, and the Administration is actually rolling back the rules farther than industry thought was prudent. The ignorance toward science could have disastrous effects for our children and their children if we don’t act now to stop the rise of global temperatures.
To what extent is climate change a man-made phenomenon? How serious is the threat to our children’s future? What should be done?
Foster: The evidence is clear that climate change is real and largely man-made. It is a real threat to our children’s future and our world’s natural beauty and resources. If we fail to act, we will lose many of the landmarks and natural beauty that make this world so wonderful. According to NASA, the average global temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius or 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880 – and this temperature rise is accelerating. Even our military understands the extent of this threat. I was encouraged when I learned that Secretary Mattis signed a report acknowledging climate change as one of the greatest threats to our national security when he was still active-duty.
As a scientist, I believe that climate change is one of the most serious challenges we face and that we should be investing much more aggressively in research into reliable, sustainable clean energy. We also should be looking not only at technologies that avoid pollution, but also at new technologies and land management practices to clean pollutants already in the atmosphere. I believe that there will be a set of technological solutions that also makes economic sense. We do not have to choose between what is best for our planet’s future and what is best for our economy.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has kept scientific truth at arm’s length and has targeted science and research for deep cuts that would put our ability to address issues like climate change in jeopardy. Last year, President Trump issued an executive order aimed at undoing federal regulations intended to protect the environment. Perhaps most disturbing, was the decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Accords – a historic agreement by nearly 200 nations to cut down on carbon emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures. This misguided decision on the Paris agreement represents an abdication of American leadership in the world.
What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence?
Foster: It is a moral shame that we have so many ways to prevent gun violence in this country, but we have a Congress who has failed to do anything to protect Americans. I support numerous pieces of federal legislation to strengthen gun laws and keep weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them. Americans deserve to live, work, and play in communities, homes, schools, and workplaces that are safe from anyone who wants to turn these places into a place of mass violence. I support a ban on assault weapons that are designed to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time. We also need universal background checks. Over 95 percent of Americans support legislation to require background checks for all gun buyers, whether they are purchasing a firearm from a gun store, a dealer, at a gun show, or on the internet. It is an abuse of our democracy by Republican leadership in Congress that we have not been allowed to even to vote on this critical safety measure for our children and all Americans. I also support a host of gun safety legislation including measures to raise the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 and the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, which provides tools to family members to prevent an individual who they fear is a danger to themselves or others from possessing a gun.
As the only PhD scientist in Congress, I also strongly believe that Congress should have the data it needs to make sound policy decisions to prevent gun violence. This spring, Congress passed legislation to allow the Centers for Disease Control to conduct research on gun violence so we can know how to stop the traumatic effects it has on too many communities in the United States. We must make sure that the CDC actually has the funding it needs to conduct this vital research.
It is hard to turn on the news these days without seeing another story of a shooting in our schools, communities, and workplaces. There are common sense solutions that Congress can and should enact that will make our country safe from these terrible acts of violence.
Is the media the “enemy of the people”? Please explain.
Foster: The President’s attacks on the press are also attacks on our democracy and the rights given to everyone by the Constitution. When he attacks the press, he is acting more like a dictator than the President of a democracy. He cannot make his own actions and history disappear simply because he does not like fair reporting on facts about his Administration. He is setting a dangerous precedent and example for future leaders and future generations of voters.
As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation pushed through Congress last December is that it lowers taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time of historic inequalities of wealth and income in the United States. We believe in free markets, but the ‘silent hand’ of the market does not seem to be rewarding merit fairly. What’s your position on last December’s rewrite of the tax code? Would you push for further changes, or for the law’s repeal?
Foster: I opposed the Republican tax bill because did not give relief to hardworking Americans. Instead, it massively increases the deficit and debt by giving unnecessary tax breaks to billionaires and international corporations. This will create over two trillion dollars in new debt that future taxpayers will have to repay. As a businessman, I understand that we must have a strong middle class if we want a strong economy. Too many individuals struggle with record credit card debt and student loans that leave little room to save for the future. The Republican Tax Plan has only exacerbated these problems even as the stock market sees record highs.
The dramatic increase in stock prices and government debt has not translated into gains for Main Street businesses and hardworking Americans. Domestic business investment under President Trump is lower than it averaged during President Obama’s second term. Bank loans to Main Street businesses, which had been growing steadily during the recovery, flatlined after President Trump’s election. Benefits to the U.S. economy from the stock price bubble have been limited since a large fraction of the gains in the stock market go straight into the pockets of offshore investors. Simply put, this President and the Republican-led Congress have not represented the best interests of millions of Americans who deserve a better economy.
The Republican Tax Plan has created a deficit-fueled bubble in the stock market. It’s not surprising that we would see a bubble from a corporate tax break, since the stock market valuations are a bet on future after-tax profitability. The tax bill also allowed corporations to bring back billions of dollars that were used for buybacks and dividends, rather than job-creating investments that would help hardworking Americans afford better lives for their families.
The plan’s cap on the state and local tax deduction specifically hurts one-third of Illinoisans. Illinois already loses tens of billions of dollars every year because we pay far more in federal taxes than we receive in federal spending, and the Republican Tax Plan only makes that worse.
Speaking of income inequality, top executives of America’s biggest companies saw their average annual pay surge to $18.9 million in 2017, even as the pay of ordinary workers has remained flat for a decade. What, if anything, should be done to address the growing gap in wealth and income?
Foster: The economic recovery since the Great Recession has not been equal for all Americans. Even before that, regressive, supply-side tax policies helped the rich get richer and made working families foot the bill. The Republican tax bill doubles down on giveaways to the wealthiest Americans and corporations. We need to reverse this, and rewrite the tax code to give working families a raise and have the rich pay their fair share.
I also support a $15 an hour minimum wage. Hardworking Americans deserve a living wage. When workers have more take-home pay, they spend it in ways that grow the economy. Increased consumer demand will lead to more jobs and better wages for all Americans.
Finally, I support programs to provide lifetime training to workers. Technology is changing faster than ever before, and it is not enough to get an education early in one’s life to keep up with the new skills that are in demand. Many of these jobs do not require a college education and pay a good wage without college debt.
Would it be appropriate at this time for President Trump to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House? Why so, or why not?
Foster: No, it is not appropriate for Russian President Putin to visit the White House. Russian President Putin orchestrated a campaign to undermine our democracy, and until President Trump is willing to hold him accountable for that, he is unwelcome here. After President Trump’s kowtowing to Russian President Putin in Helsinki, we are left to wonder what intelligence the Russians have on our President. We need the facts before engaging with a dictator like Russian President Putin.
How would you assess and grade the Trump administration’s efforts to recalibrate our nation’s relationships with Korea, NATO and Russia?
Foster: We all agree a nuclear North Korea is a threat to our national security and to the safety of some of our most important allies. We have to be very careful when we engage with North Korea to avoid political posturing based on forces of personality. Instead, we must engage through diplomatic channels and exert greater economic pressure in concert with our allies if we are to get North Korea to remove its nuclear weapons and nuclear materials.
Unfortunately, we have a President who refused to prepare for his meeting with North Korea and appears to lack understanding of the technical details of the denuclearization process. He also has not used qualified scientists who can help him understand the technical complexity of denuclearization. As the only PhD physicist in Congress, I leveraged my own training when I decided to support the Iran Nuclear Deal, so I understand how complicated these negotiations can be. The Iran Nuclear Deal was the product of years of negotiations that involved technically qualified scientists and experienced diplomats from several countries. This deal worked very well because we were able to establish guidelines based on verification and not trust.
There are major differences between the inspection regime that will be required to ensure the denuclearization of North Korea compared to Iran. In North Korea, our inspection regime must detect hidden nuclear weapons under very complex geographical and logistical conditions. In Iran, the inspection regime needed to detect a nuclear weapons factory, which is far easier due to the many detectable signatures of a nuclear supply chain.
There are specific concessions that President Trump must obtain from North Korea to demonstrate that Kim Jung Un is serious about complete denuclearization. A successful negotiation requires a framework that meets four criteria at minimum. First, North Korea must produce an immediate declaration of all people having knowledge of nuclear development and all facilities for it. International inspectors have to be given access to those people and facilities. Next, North Korea needs to provide a complete catalogue of nuclear materials, including the history of production and amounts. Third, all nuclear devices should be immediately disassembled or shipped out of the country under international monitoring. Finally, international inspectors must be able to engage in snap inspections throughout North Korea on a complete and ongoing basis, including at conventional military sites.
I strongly encourage the Trump Administration to work closely with qualified scientists and seasoned diplomats so that we can make sure all negotiations meet these benchmarks.
NATO has been a significant force in maintaining relative global peace and prosperity since World War II. President Trump’s attacks on our most important military alliance reflect a fundamental ignorance of the history and structure of NATO. In fact, the commitment of other nations to engage when one member is attacked has only been used once – after the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001. President Obama successfully urged most of the other NATO nations to begin fulfilling their commitment with respect to their own defense spending. In contrast, President Trump has alienated our NATO allies and wrongly questioned the necessity of NATO in ways that called into question America’s commitment to collective defense of our allies. NATO is critical to the national security interests of the United States, and we need stable and knowledgeable leadership that will nurture our relationships with our allies.
Diplomacy is always the first and best option in dealing with our adversaries, including states headed by strongman dictators like Russia. President Trump, however, bows to Russian President Putin in every interaction, displaying an embarrassingly weak power dynamic for the interests of the country he represents. Vladimir Putin has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law, democratic institutions, international norms, or human rights. Russia is a bad actor throughout the world. It has actively attempted to undermine democracies in support of ugly, nationalist partisans including our own, the United Kingdom, and other EU states. The President of the United States should demand accountability from the Kremlin, rather than heaping praise on its dictator or cowering because of personal insecurities.
In late June, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban on visitors and immigrants from seven countries, five of which have Muslim majorities. What is your view on this ban?
Foster: I do not support any categorical bans predicated on a person’s religion and believe it is contrary to our country’s values. The President’s executive actions do nothing to make America safer and are nothing more than a mechanism for state sanctioned discrimination from an administration more concerned about propagating hysteria than engaging in sound governance. This ban likely creates greater risk for radicalization of young people. As a report from the Department of Homeland Security explained, the largest threat to Americans comes from “homegrown” terrorists who have been alienated and radicalized by exactly the kind of hatred and bigotry that President Trump’s statements and executive actions amplify.
It is also interesting to contrast President Trump and the Republicans’ obsession with relatively infrequent acts of alleged violence by immigrants, while ignoring or encouraging policies that lead to 3,000 deaths of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, or the 1,400 deaths per year expected from President Trump’s proposed changes in air pollution standards.
What three major reforms should be made to United States immigration policy?
Foster: I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, improves our legal immigration system, unites families, and provides an earned path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who currently live in fear of deportation. I remain frustrated that Republicans in the House failed to even allow a vote on the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform, which would have easily passed had we been allowed to vote on it. Instead, Republican leadership chooses to pursue mean-spirited legislation that is harmful to our economy and antithetical to our values as Americans. We must end the cruel and racist policies the Trump Administration champions.
Our country thrives when we support innovation, culture, and diversity that immigrants from across the world bring to the United States. Almost half of Fortune 500 companies in this country were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. But Republican leadership in Congress has refused to pass even simple measures to solve our current immigration crisis and appear to only want to cause more chaos in the lives of refugees and undocumented workers. Speaker Ryan has refused to protect the DREAMers despite overwhelming bipartisan support. I support the DREAM Act so that the hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought here through no fault of their own can have a path to citizenship.
I have also called on the Trump Administration to reunite families who lawfully seek asylum. The separation of families at the border only inflicts long-term psychological trauma on young people and has not stopped other families from entering the country.
Do you support or oppose the family-based immigration policy sometimes called “chain migration”? Please explain.
Foster: I support compassionate immigration policies that enable families to stay together and to come to the United States for an opportunity at a better life and the protections and dignity that come with participation in our democracy. Family-based immigration policy with reasonable limits on the family nexus that binds people is good for our society and imperative to living up to our values. Spouses and children, clearly reasonably close relationships, make up the majority of immigration through the family-based program.
What would you do, as a member of Congress, to improve race relations in the United States?
Foster: As the son of Civil Rights lawyer, I strongly believe that every person deserves a chance to thrive in this country regardless of where they grow up or what their last name is. Despite the progress of the Civil Rights Movement, minorities in this country still face significant battles for equality, so I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that inequality is still a problem. We still have long way to go to make sure all Americans feel like they live in a country that is fair and equal. Poverty, criminality, and incarceration is a vicious cycle that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. We also must change our criminal justice system. Passing bipartisan sentencing reform, which has been held up by Republican Senators, would be a start. The Black Lives Matter movement has gone a long way to remind all of us that we need to work together to repair the relationships in our communities. The number of unarmed deaths of black Americans is serious cause for concern in this country. We should not respond to the deaths of unarmed black Americans with anger at every law enforcement officer. Nor should we excuse or condone the murder of police officers in response to these deaths.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
Foster: The biggest difference between my opponent and me is how we approach improving the lives of hardworking Americans. I support the Affordable Care Act, and I believe we need to build on its success to expand coverage and improve care. Since it was passed, the Affordable Care Act has given millions of Americans access to health care and made sure that insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. I also think that tax cuts for the hardworking middle class, rather than tax cuts for the wealthy, will improve lives and grow our economy. The Republican tax plan that Congress passed last year has only helped wealthy families and large corporations. Empirical evidence demonstrates over the last four decades that simply giving more to those who already have more than they need does not have a meaningful trickle down impact for most Americans.
Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.