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On Thursday, the Conference on World Affairs gathered panelists Michael G. Franc, Marilinda Garcia, Heather Hulburt and William Thorne, Jr. to contribute to a discussion about the politics of immigration that America is currently facing.
Franc, vice president of governmental studies at the Heritage Foundation, contributed intelligent information to the discussion. In regard to immigration, he said that based on the results of polls, many people believe that “immigrants are good for America.” Franc believes that there are too many legislative issues, which makes it hard to make progress.
“[There is] overwhelming bipartisan support with the bills that are introduced,” Franc said.
But even though there is a high number of correspondents from each party, often the bills cannot be passed. For Democrats, bills do not get moved until immigrants have achieved citizenship. On the other end of the spectrum, the Republican’s bills do not get moved until issues such as border fixation have been solved. It’s difficult to find a happy medium.
Franc also said that he doesn’t want people to come in who have “ill will or malice,” but that assimilation is important. By understanding the law and liberties of the U.S., immigrants will be able to appreciate the “thrill” of being an American.
Garcia, a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, mentioned that there are many contentious issues surrounding immigration in the media. Partisan politics paint immigration as having only two extreme solutions, which Garcia said include either mass deportation or blanket amnesty.
While many people’s ideologies align with such extremes, there are many other possible solutions to the immigration reform. Garcia encourages people to think outside of the box and look at other possibilities, rather than just the extremes.
Thorne approached the topic from a different angle. In his discussion, he spoke about his issues with the American system. As an example, Thorne explained that some people believe that the ideal mother is someone who can take care of her children and provide wonderful lives for them. This doesn’t change if the mother is an illegal immigrant. Thorne recalled one instance in which a mother was arrested for being an illegal immigrant and not paying child support. In the end, the child was taken away from the mother. Thorne said that the action taken was legally correct, but ethically wrong in his mind.
“These are real people, not just ‘those others,’” Thorne said.
Hulburst, the executive director of the National Security Network, presented some information about changes in the dynamics of immigration. In the last 10 years, the immigration movement has certainly changed. According to Hulburst, 14 percent of the current U.S. population is made up of immigrants. In the last year, the top three countries sending immigrants to the U.S. were China, Mexico and India, as opposed to just Mexico. When looking at the Pew Research Center data, it appears that the number of Chinese and Indian immigrants is now the same as the number of Mexican immigrants.
After the panelists gave their opinions on the current immigration policy, the discussion was opened up to audience input.
“I agree that hardworking people should come here and build up this country,” audience member Blaise Harper said. “We should open our doors more to immigration.”
All of the speakers agreed that immigration is important to America and provided closing remarks on their stances regarding immigration.
“I happen to think that people who are willing to risk their lives and everything they own to try and provide a better future for their children,” Thorne said, “are exactly who we want.”