A considerable uproar could be heard throughout the halls of UVU as the Revolutionary Students Union club protestors stood outside the ballroom auditorium chanting “Shame on Sandstorm” on Thursday, Nov. 18.
The debate that is one of many that will be held at the request of student government and their professors. Their objective is to participate in controversial issues so they may be well versed in all kinds of arguments.
Five individuals were asked to help educate student by volunteering their time. These officials include Utah legislators Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, and Chris Herrod, R-Provo. The debate also included Esperanza Granados of American Civil Liberties Union of Utah; Dimitri Mumulidisz, executive director of Utah Democratic Lawyers Council; and Mark Alvarez, an immigration attorney and member of the Utah Minority Bar Association.
Sandstrom was the official protestors were focused on, because of a policy he has written that some say has many similarities to the controversial policy that Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer enacted.
Sandstrom tried to make it clear that his policy differs from Arizona in many ways.
“My bill only enforces and cites current federal law,” Sandstrom said. “I’m not doing anything different from current federal law.”
In the debate he covered some of the larger issues that are part of illegal immigration, such as identity theft, and the importance of honoring and obeying the rule of the law. To be fair, he said, there should be consequences for those who enter the country illegally.
He was backed up on the issue of fairness by Herrod, who stressed the “forgotten immigrants,” identified as the ones from Ukraine, China and Africa who are trying to legally enter into the United States.
Their issues were acknowledged and rebutted by their opponents, like Alvarez, who addressed Sandstrom’s immigration policy.
“If we went state by state trying to pass immigration policy, we would have fifty different immigration policies within the United States. That makes no sense,” Alvarez said. “Within the Supreme Court, even if the state law is a copy of federal law it can be unconstitutional because it places burden on the federal government. Ironically, these people who are screaming rule of law and then trying to incarcerate people are breaking the law; they are violating the constitution.”
Alvarez had the support of protestors, who were lead by Gregory Lucero. He says he supports workers of all nationalities and wants to provide information that explores many of the myths about immigration.
“In the context of this particular debate, we would say that this has to be a federal solution,” Lucero said. “In general the solution is to integrate people from all nations into our community, grant them rights so they’re not hidden and exploited by those who want cheap labor.”
Although many of the panelists addressed the need to not be emotional, the debate had plenty of that. From the protestors holding their cardboard signs to participants sharing stories about friends and family members who have suffered the immigration process, the room was full of emotion. Then there were the students who surrounded the panelist after the debate with their own heartfelt stories and fevered opinions.
UVU student Kenny Barlow gave his reaction to the debate.
“Too much emotion, on both sides: One side wants to tell you to follow the rule of law, the other side wants to call that side racist.” Barlow said. “For me, I think illegal immigration is a symptom of a bigger problem: it’s a symptom of bad boarder policy, bad citizenship requirements, a symptom of a bogus war on drugs and symptom of poor welfare programs. As for immigrants, bring them all. Gives us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses – I love it, I think it makes America better than it is.”
For more information on upcoming debates and student government events, visit www.UVU.edu/studentgovernment/wctivities
For more information on the Revolutionary Students Union, www.UVURSU.com