McGraw tries to tie congressional incumbent to open immigration

By Bill Dwyer For Chronicle Media

Joe McGraw

The race in the Illinois 17th Congressional District between incumbent Eric Sorensen and challenger Joe McGraw is likely the only competitive congressional race in Illinois, and it’s heating up.  

Updated fundraising and spending numbers won’t be known until early July, but both candidates have received notable endorsements recently. And at least one of them is amping up his attacks on his opponent.  

McGraw and other Republicans have teamed up to call Sorensen’s judgment on immigration into question. An online Illinois Review article dated May 24 carried the headline “Rep. Sorensen makes the case for an open southern border.”  

The piece included an undated, 15-second video clip from Fox18 television in the Quad Cities. In it, Sorensen says, “The economy of the United States would end in three days (if the border were shut down). We have three days of what we need in the United States, so if we just shut down the entire southern border, it would be to the detriment of our country.”  

The Illinois Review article was followed by a McGraw Facebook post May 31 that asked “What in the world is Eric Sorensen talking about? While Sorensen shills for open borders, Illinois families are struggling every single day just to get by.” 

The Sorensen campaign did not reply to an emailed request for comment on McGraw’s allegations before press time, but the public record shows that he has offered detailed ideas on immigration and border security, and does not favor throwing the doors wide open to unregulated immigration.  

Sorensen is a co-sponsor of the Dignity Act, currently the only bipartisan bill in the U.S. House

Eric Sorensen

designed to comprehensively address problems with immigration and border security. He also voted to increase overtime pay for Customs and Border Patrol officers as part of the National defense reauthorization in December.   

In May, Sorensen was part of a bipartisan delegation that visited the southern border in Nogales, Ariz. on a fact-finding mission. The experience, he said at a later press conference, “helped me understand that our law enforcement needs more support in keeping the border secure. We also need to be doing more to fix our broken immigration system so that those who want to follow American law can come to this country legally.”  

Sorensen has said immigration and border security “can’t be a partisan or political issue,” and has vowed to pursue legislation adding 500 more border agents and provide technology to counter drug-smuggling and human-trafficking.  

In March, Sorensen joined with New York Rep. Tom Suozzi and others to form the House Democrats Border Security Task Force with the intent of convincing House Speaker Mike Johnson “to work with Democrats in a bipartisan way to address the challenges we face at the Southern border.” 

Meanwhile, both Sorensen and McGraw are continuing to garner endorsements and campaign support.  

The Illinois AFL-CIO endorsed Sorensen and said its political department will work to “educate, engage and mobilize the more than 2 million people from union families on issues, candidates and policies,” through person-to-person contacts, direct mail, social media, rallies and public events. 

McGraw was endorsed by Americans for Prosperity Action. AFP Action’s Jason Heffley said on June 6 that the group “intends to put the full weight of our grassroots capabilities behind McGraw’s candidacy to ensure he’s elected to the House of Representatives come November.” 

While no dollar figures were released relative to McGraw’s support, AFP Action can put seven-figure sums behind candidates. In early June, it announced a $1 million campaign supporting Wisconsin Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde.  

In addition to money, AFP says its “grassroots activists have been knocking on doors since early April as part of AFP Action’s largest election engagement cycle to date,” and will continue working to reach potential Republican voters through mailers, phone calls and emails.