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Sorensen to tour border and Mexico manufacturing areas

Rep.-elect Eric Sorensen, D-Ill., arrives for New Member Orientation check-in and program registration at the Hyatt Regency, in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
AP file
U.S. Rep. Eric Sorensen is a Democrat who represents parts of Bloomington-Normal and Peoria.

This time could be different on immigration. That's the hope Democratic congressman Eric Sorensen has for a trip to the Arizona border.

After decades of failed stabs at immigration reform policy, Sorensen and Metro-East Rep. Nikki Budzinski — a fellow Democrat — will visit the southern border for discussions as part of a budding bipartisan effort to move forward on the contentious issue.

Sorensen, who represents parts of Bloomington-Normal and the Peoria area, said Thursday during an online media availability it will be a "really important week."

"When we put Republicans and Democrats together and we put the same information in front of us, it increases the possibility we'll actually come up with real solutions," said Sorensen.

Greg Stanton, former Phoenix, Arizona mayor and current Democratic congressman, said there are humanitarian and economic reasons to solve the crisis. The trip includes going to Mexico to see manufacturing areas there. Stanton said Mexico has always been Arizona's number one trading partner. Now it is the nation's top trading partner, too.

Tensions with China, which are going to increase, are going to have a lot of companies thinking about near-shoring and bringing those manufacturing operations where you have better supply chain security, said Stanton.

Budzinski said all sides agree the asylum system is broken.

"It takes those who are seeking asylum years to get asylum, and then there are those who are taking advantage of the system. It's not working," she said.

Members of the coalition said Democrats will have to accept the idea that asylum seekers need to remain in Mexico while their claims go through the process. That could remove the incentive for huge numbers of people to flood through the border. And they said Republicans will have to accept quicker processing of those claims, including allowing hearing officers to summarily adjudicate claims.

Republican and Democratic members of the coalition said their efforts may not result in a single overarching piece of legislation, but a series of small wins to address pieces of the problem.

The group noted poisonous rhetoric will continue to to come from some extreme members of both parties, but those who have a serious purpose can ignore those voices to get things done.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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