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SMC College Republicans and Democrats discuss immigration reform

| Friday, April 24, 2015

Saint Mary’s “Week of Action” hosted a bipartisan debate between representatives of the College Republicans and College Democrats clubs Thursday at the College. The issue of the debate was the immigration of unaccompanied minors into the United Sates.

The event began with an opening statement from College Republicans representatives. Senior and College Republicans president Nicole O’Toole said she thinks it is important to debunk the stereotype that Republicans are anti-immigration.

“We are all immigrants, we are all American,” O’Toole said. “This is not to say that our immigration policies are not in need of dire changes.”

Members of the bipartisan debate discuss the recent influx of undocumented child immigrants in the United States and the impact of immigration on the nation.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Members of the bipartisan debate discuss the recent influx of undocumented child immigrants in the United States and the impact of immigration on the nation.

In her opening statement, junior Angge Roncal Bazan, a representative from College Democrats, said most children are migrating from areas in Latin America fraught with economic and social turmoil.

“They are crossing into the United States in search of refuge,” Roncal said. “The reason they come is because the living conditions in their home countries have become increasingly unstable for reasons like trauma, stress, violence and abuse.”

A large issue in the debate was the question of whether to send children back to the situations they had left when they crossed the border.

O’Toole said there is a need to reform both border control and immigration.

“To a certain extent, it gets out of our hands. If every child in the world said, ‘Take me in or I’m going to be killed,’ it would become too much,” O’Toole said.

Junior Bri O’Brien, a representative of College Democrats, responded by saying there are 60,000 unaccompanied minors in the U.S. This is a small number compared to the nearly 420,000 deportations President Barack Obama has authorized, she said.

Roncal said the Democrat party believes this system has to change.

“The Democrats believe in a more permanent solution that keeps families together,” Roncal said.

Shannon Golden, junior and representative of College Republicans, responded by saying it was important to prioritize the needs of legal citizens.

“There is injustice going on throughout the world and [we can’t take] everyone that’s being victimized — as much as you would love to do that, we have [many] American citizens without food, without a roof over their head that we need to worry about first, before we can think about people that are trying to come into this country,” Golden said.

SMC College Republicans and Democrats convene to debate immigration policy as part of La Fuerza’s “Week of Action.”Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

SMC College Republicans and Democrats convene to debate immigration policy as part of La Fuerza’s “Week of Action.”

In response to a question from the audience on the relationship between Catholic social responsibility and immigration, Roncal said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) believe it is the Church’s duty to respect all who come the U.S. for safety.

She said the USCCB believes we have a “responsibility to help those in need.”

A closing statement by the College Republicans emphasized the importance of immigration reform.

“The goal is not to send children back, but to make sure no more [children] come in,” Golden said.

She said although there is no clear solution yet, the U.S. must reform how illegal children are treated.

Roncal delivered the College Democrats’ closing statement, highlighting the importance of keeping families together.

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