Dady: Immigration reform needed
Universal, single-payer health care is a topic 16th Congressional District candidate Sara Dady said sparks enthusiasm from constituents she’s spoken with that she believes will lead to a more competitive workforce and higher wages.
In a meeting with a Shaw Media editorial board Wednesday in Ottawa, Dady said by removing the burden from employers to cover the cost of health care they’ll be able to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour to meet or come close to meeting inflation demands.
She said she’s met with voters across the district during her campaign and has found “a vast majority” of those between ages 18 and 35 working two or three jobs at $8.25 an hour.
“You can’t live on $8.25 an hour working 40 hours a week as one individual, and then when you try to support a family, you absolutely can’t do it,” Dady said. “If you live in the United States and are working 40 hours a week, you should be able to afford a house, groceries, child care and save for retirement.”
Dady faces U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, in the November election for the 16th District seat.
The Shaw Media Editorial Board met with Kinzinger last week.
Health care and pay raises
Dady knows the burden employers face as an employer in Rockford as an immigration lawyer.
“I realized the pay raises we were giving our employees were getting eaten up in those increased premiums,” Dady said. “So we started increasing the percentage of the premium we pay, and now we pay roughly 75 percent of health care premiums.”
She acknowledged this is unsustainable and is handcuffing other U.S. businesses from being more competitive as she said it’s the only first-world country that doesn’t have universal health care.
She believes the single-payer Medicare for all could save $2 trillion over the next 10 years and help provide mental health and drug treatment services for those in need. Universal care would mean more consistent resources and reduce the costs associated with repeated offenses.
“We pay a lot more because we keep seeing the same people with mental health issues that don’t have access to treatment and care going in and out of our county jails, and in and out of our criminal justice system who are unable to become productive members of society, because they don’t have access to the care they need,” Dady said.
Dady said taking the burden of health care off of employers will leave them with more funds to raise the minimum wage to $15 without having to cut back on staffing, indicating the increase in raises likely would fall far below the average $13,000 paid annually to an employee for health care coverage.
“But we have to be committed to doing this,” Dady said. “And I think we can be. I know 20 years ago nobody was talking about single-payer Medicare for all. We’ve made great advances in showing this is a common-sense solution to a national problem.”
Dady also said she’s often mistaken as being supportive of open borders but clarified that she supports regulated borders.
She said the immigration system needs to be reformed, which currently sets immigrants up to fail.
“When I hear people say, ‘We just need to enforce the laws we have,’ well that’s what we have been doing for the last 15 years. Nothing but enforcing immigration laws, but when you have bad laws, stepped-up enforcement doesn’t get you better results,” Dady said.
She said currently available visas are “expensive and complex” and noted that last year agriculture visas were not issued until 22 days into the harvest season.
A broad legalization of the 11 million undocumented immigrants already integrated into communities and a real worker visa program tied to market demands and issued on a timely basis would reduce the strain already put on taxpayers for the money spent on civil detentions, immigration courts – and instead funnel those people into the legalization process which is funded by fees paid by immigrants, Dady said. The struggle to implement this type of plan lies with Republicans who obstruct reform and identified Kinzinger as one of those unwilling to join moderate Republicans in the discussion.
She said it’s an issue all Illinois residents should be invested in as it directly affects the economy, saying the state has about 500,000 undocumented immigrants paying state and local taxes. Dady also said if they were provided an easy opportunity for lawful status, they would help ensure the state does not lose additional congressional seats after the 2020 census because of residents leaving the state.
She noted that many who support closed borders do so in an effort to curb the flow of drugs, but Dady believes those resources are better spent helping drug users curb addiction and reduce the demand.
Dady said President Donald Trump’s tariffs have hurt local businesses and farms rather than China.
“I fail to see how destroying family farms is going to stop Chinese companies from stealing or engaging in U.S. technology theft and unfair practices,” Dady said. “I’m deeply concerned about that.”
Dady said she understood wanting to rein in China’s unfair practices but said a better strategy would be to align with trading allies rather than launch a number of tariffs as it would leave China isolated from trading practices.
Dady said she’s supportive of the Second Amendment as she is all constitutional rights, but believes that with all rights there’s a balance between the individual rights with the responsibilities to community safety.
Her focus on the gun issue tends to be ensuring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is adequately funded and reassessing previous restrictions on gun research and information.
One prohibition she noted was one that prohibits the government from compiling a record of gun sales in a centralized location that would allow fast access to information on gun owners to be aware if a gun owner is convicted of a felony after acquiring a gun.
Additionally, another law prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence.
“Congress is charged with making decisions based on good data and facts. We need that data now,” Dady said.
Dady said she has a “broader understanding and commitment to representation” when compared with Kinzinger.
She noted the two have been invited by 17 organizations to participate in candidate forums and debates, but he’s only attended one.
Dady said he declined one stating he would not attend as it was arranged by Democrats but then also declined one arranged by Republicans, while she attended both.
“When you get elected to this office, you represent all of the people in your district. Not just the people you agree with and not just the people who voted for you and not just the people who gave you money,” Dady said.
She said she plans to hold four public town halls a year and commits to creating constituent councils, which will be designed to bring constituents together of different backgrounds and political alignments who are directly affected by issues to come to a consensus.