The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

Illegal Immigration: A mock debate about a very real issue

By Toria Bodden

Performed by Amy Salisbury and Jillian Kerstetter

When two members of the paper staff told me they wanted to do a mock debate for the paper, I raised my eyebrows. I may have also rolled my eyes. We’ve all been inundated with political information during this election cycle, and I’m starting to become a bit indifferent. You might be, too. However, the issue of immigration is always on the edge of our consciousness as San Diegans. When Jillian and Amy said they wanted to debate a hypothetical proposition, involving temporary closure of international borders, I gave it some thought. This issue is becoming more and more polarized, and it may be something we see on our ballots at some point in the future. The opinions included in this debate do not represent the beliefs of any staff member at the Pride, including Jillian and Amy. They are assuming roles as part of an exercise, meant to teach and inform. To put it another way, they got sick of all the ugly debates during this election, so they made an intelligent one of their own. We’ve included a slice of the debate transcript, which is edited for space constraints. The audio file and a longer transcript are available at Please feel free to comment and share your opinion online, in a respectful manner.


Debate part 1:

Debate part 2:

Amy Salisbury: Jillian, do you want to start us off?

Jillian Kerstetter: Yes, I will start us off. One of the main arguments that is usually presented by a lot of political parties, political news activists, everything like that, is that illegal immigrants, however unfortunate their circumstances are from their country, have repeatedly taxed our own economy, meaning having to accommodate illegal immigrants or students in our schools, them taking away jobs from our working class. It’s just become more of a problem for us than it has really been helpful for them. It’s always been a Catch-22 situation, but I think at this point, we need to take a step back possibly, and look at the potential damage that could be done to our regional and potentially our federal sectors if we keep allowing unregulated immigration, or illegal immigration.

AS: Ok, well, I appreciate your points of view, Jillian, but I believe that, I differ slightly in my assessment of illegal immigration. First off, immigration has been a part of this country since its inception. There would not be an America without illegal immigration. There wouldn’t be diversity without illegal immigration. There wouldn’t be an America without this diversity that has come here, whether through the system or not, and that’s the bottom line. There are ways to become a citizen of this country legally, and that is one of the arguments that I hear quite often about illegal immigrants is that they choose not to become a citizen. They choose to not follow the rules of the country that they are wanting to live in. But becoming a citizen is one heck of a process, and some people come here with eight children and they don’t have the time, and they work 20 hours a day and they don’t have the money to buy the books to study all the things they get tested on. Some of the things they get tested on aren’t even taught in schools. It is illogical for many people to try to even attempt to go about legalizing themselves in the United States because they just can’t do it. The reason they come here is under hardship, and when the country that suggests freedom and equality imposes this on people who just want a better life, it is a contradiction in and of itself.

JK: That is a very good point, all very good points. And surprisingly enough, I do agree with some of them. We should be a country that does as we claim, you know, takes in the tired, the weary, you know, the poor, and I do agree with that 100 percent. And I also do agree very much so with the fact that this is a country of immigrants. We’d be nowhere without the hard work of immigrants. However, I will say that like every other country in the entire world, we should have a system for becoming a citizen of this country. If you can’t follow that system, if you can’t follow those rules, you shouldn’t be allowed in.

AS: That’s a great point, Jillian, and I respect that. You’re right, countries maintain regulation by imposing laws on anyone who wants to be a part of that country. That is not the illogical part. Perhaps what needs to be done is to create less stringent rules on what it takes to become a citizen, because these people, like I said before, they just want to work. They just want to come to a place where they can have a job.

JK: But then, what about the country that they’re coming from? What is America saying to those countries that these illegal immigrants are coming from? I mean what about their agency? What about their own power as a country to help their tired, their weary, their poor? I think it’s almost undermining them to say that we offer this great refuge… If you want to talk about the more pertinent case in our scenario, of California, considering this obviously has to come up. We are on the California-Mexico border. Obviously that is the more pressing issue as far as illegal immigration. Why is it that we haven’t, as a country—instead of just saying “Oh yeah, come on in,” and potentially putting our own citizens’ wellbeing—and I say wellbeing as in just their daily lives, I’m not saying mortality or anything, here—putting their own wellbeing into jeopardy, why aren’t we extending a hand to the Mexican government? Offering them solutions, you know, money, whatever to help, you know, rebuild, obviously their government that is obviously failing their people? And I’m saying that very loosely because I don’t know—I’m not a Mexican citizen.

AS: Well, although I can’t name specifically the things that this country does for other countries, I know based off, I don’t know, common knowledge that—we don’t—we’re not passive. We are not a passive country. We don’t stand by and allow for injustices whether in our country or another. I think it’s unfair to suggest that America is trying to take on the problems of the world because I don’t think we are.

JK: I agree. I don’t think we’re trying to take on necessarily every single problem of the world, but then at that point though, we do need to have—I would suggest—I would be suggesting that the closure of the borders, in this case scenario, would be something of an act of self-preservation. It would be a temporary act in order to get our wits about us, kind of, for everybody to get on the same page, maybe even, see what our real immigration policy is, because, at a certain point, and this is something that everyone has to agree on, everbody has to agree on this, we only have so much of a land mass. I mean, unless you want to start packing people in, like, you know in every single part—

AS: But we’re not even close to that. That isn’t even on the radar of issues to be concerned with.

JK: I’m just saying, at a certain point, our resources can only cover so many people. We have to figure out how we’re going to handle the distribution of resources, how many people we are willing to allow to come into our country. It’s something that we’re going to have to approach sooner or later. I think it’s just been proven rapidly—been proven—that that time is rapidly approaching where we’re going to have to make a unified, solid stance on what we’re going to do.

AS: And your suggestion is to close the borders? Why do we need to halt anything to develop a solution? Why do you have to—why is it necessary to stop while we collect?

JK: In my opinion, because it’s going to show a strong, unified stance that we are altering our immigration policy. It’s as simple as that. By sitting there and honestly all coming together and agreeing that, hey, ok, we need to figure this out, we’re closing the borders until further notice. All immigration is going to cease until we can find a policy that we, you know, that we can all agree on and be happy with.

AS: You’re recognizing a problem, but you’re not thinking of the positive effects that this one problem has on this country. You want to halt the influx of new workers. You want to halt the increase in sales tax we have from every person in the country having to buy goods. You want to stop these things that contribute to the economy, and that is an illogical step to take.

JK: But they also detract—in this time of recession, where literally anybody—

AS: How—how does increased sales tax detract from—

JK: We need to think about every American, not just—not just—

AS: So then you mean citizens of the country?

JK: Yes, citizens of the United States of America and the United States Government.

AS: What about people who went through the system, got their citizenship, but who were here illegally for a time? What about naturalized citizens? What about people who had a baby here?

JK: Naturalized citizens are citizens. They are citizens of the United States. I think we have to look more at what’s happening now. And again, to reiterate the point, I’m not saying that the border closures would be for forever. Obviously, immigration is a positive aspect in some cases, like you just said, it’s on a case-by-case basis. However, at this point in time, it has obviously been a heated problem that many people have many differing opinions on. We need to get on the same page.

AS: Ok, well, finally, just a concluding statement from the “con” side. Illegal immigration is not the problem. Policy is the problem. Once the United States gets its policies in order and we stop spending so much, maybe we will stop and realize that illegal immigration is not the problem, it’s the way we’re spending our money.

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