Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood and Republican challenger Scott Gryder argued about immigration, gun control, last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol and other topics during a joint interview Thursday.
In every case, the 14th Congressional District candidates toed the lines drawn by their respective political parties.
The session, hosted by the Daily Herald, was the second meeting between Underwood, of Naperville, and Gryder, of Oswego, in less than 24 hours. The night before, they discussed issues facing the nation in an online forum hosted by League of Women Voters groups serving the district.
Immigration was among the first issues raised Thursday.
Underwood blasted the busing of migrants from the southern border to Illinois and other states by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott – both Republicans – as cruel “political stunts.”
Underwood also criticized Gryder for not addressing those transports. When pressed, Gryder said sending migrants north “is [the governors’] response to a federal government they feel isn’t listening.”
Gryder, who chairs the Kendall County Board, expressed concerns about migrants crossing illegally at the southern border as well as people bringing deadly fentanyl into the U.S. there. He said the U.S. should finish building a wall across the border and better fund U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Underwood said well-publicized seizures of drugs at the southern border and the arrests of people trying to cross illegally show that current border security efforts work.
Fielding a question about gun control, Gryder revealed that his father fatally shot himself.
“It wasn’t the gun’s fault,” Gryder said. “It was 40 years of depression and [post-traumatic stress disorder].”
To reduce gun violence, Gryder insisted that existing local laws need to be enforced better rather than creating new ones. He also argued that there is a “national war on police” and called for more police funding.
Underwood said she supports universal background checks for would-be gun buyers and red flag laws that would allow authorities to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. She also touted votes to ban military-style firearms and high-capacity magazines.
“I support commonsense, popular legislative solutions,” said Underwood, who’s seeking a third term in the House.
Underwood also noted that she has helped get federal funding for local public safety agencies through the American Rescue Plan and other legislation.
When Gryder asked Underwood whether she would call for Illinois’ controversial, law enforcement-focused SAFE-T Act to be repealed, Underwood said Gryder is “confused about the position he’s running for.”
Underwood and Gryder also expressed different opinions about the culpability of then-President Donald Trump in the deadly Capitol siege.
While Gryder said anyone who broke into the Capitol should be prosecuted, he balked at holding Trump responsible.
“I’m focused on this election,” Gryder said.
Conversely, Underwood blamed Trump for refusing to admit he lost the 2020 election and for orchestrating an effort to overturn the results. She also said Trump knew some in the mob at the Capitol were armed and did nothing to prevent the attack, actions she called “criminal.”
Redrawn ahead of the 2022 election, the 14th District encompasses parts of Kane, Will, DeKalb, Kendall, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties. Election Day is Nov. 8.