Bingham 103 provided a fitting forum Thursday for an immigration debate.
More than one year ago the room saw brick throwing, shouting and hostility in reaction to former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo’s speech that year.
Representatives for the Young Democrats and College Republicans met Thursday evening to debate topics including Arizona’s immigration law, the 14th Amendment and the DREAM Act.
Sponsored by the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative, College Republicans, Young Democrats and the Parr Center for Ethics, the event was part of Hispanic Heritage Month. The month-long celebration is hosting weekly events for 30 days to celebrate Hispanic heritage.
“It was perfect,” said Ron Bilbao, undergraduate assistant to the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative. “We couldn’t have planned it better.”
The evening began with a formal debate replete with opening statements and rebuttals, but it was eventually opened to audience questions.
Both parties agreed that immigration reform is necessary, but they didn’t always agree how it should look.
Zach Dexter, who represented the College Republicans along with Marc Seelinger, said the first step is to control America’s borders — not only the Mexican border, but the Canadian border and coasts as well. This control could stop the flow of illegal immigrants, drugs, human trafficking and terrorists.
He also supported increasing the number of visas and offering a way for illegal aliens to gain legal status — but not necessarily citizenship — through military service.
“If you want to stop the exploitation of hard-working immigrants by brutal drug cartels,” Dexter said, “join us to secure the border in a serious way and open up more slots in visa and guest-worker programs to keep the bad guys out and let the hard-working migrants in.”
Dexter also advocated for a complete legalization of drugs, which he said would boost the American economy and help secure the borders.
Austin Gilmore, who argued for the Young Democrats, said that since immigration is a complex issue, it will also have a complex solution.
He and his partner Willem Wyndham also argued for securing the borders, but they believe that illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. should have a path to citizenship.
Afterward, all the participants seemed content with the evening’s discourse.
“I think it went excellently,” Gilmore said. “We put a good face to Democratic policy on immigration. When you debate issues, you have to do it in a way that will foster constructive debate.”
“Everybody got to say what they wanted; there was a nice little back and forth.”
“I think we won,” Dexter added.
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