Watch video:

The Century Foundation and NYU Wagner are proud to present Debates of the Century @NYU Wagner, a public debate series showcasing thoughtful, informed dialogue from experts on the most vital national policy issues. The second event in the Spring 2016 Debate Series will examine immigration reform. The speakers will debate the resolution:

America should embrace the undocumented and expand immigration.

As the current presidential election season has made clear, immigration is a hot-button issue which raises questions of national security, jobs, and even American identity and morality. While many Americans agree that we should reform our country’s approach to immigration, they disagree on what direction it should take.

Immigration has become one of the most explosive and polarizing issues of the 2016 presidential campaign. Most everyone, regardless of political affiliation, seems to agree that our current immigration system is broken. For years we have been talking about what to do about the 11 million undocumented individuals that now make up 3.5 percent of the US population. Does it make sense to keep the undocumented in legal limbo, while they pay taxes, participate in our communities, and send their children to public schools? Unease about immigration rose another notch recently when the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino by ISIS sympathizers reminded us that getting immigration right is not just a matter of equity and economics but national security. The problem is that nothing approaching a national consensus has formed on how to fix it.

Policy solutions run the gamut and include mass deportation, building walls on our porous borders, excluding whole categories of immigrants, creating a monitoring system that would weed out potential security threats, limiting immigration to highly skilled workers, or undertaking a comprehensive reform that includes “a path to citizenship” for the undocumented. Immigration advocates claim comprehensive reform will strengthen the overall economy, increase US GDP, foster innovation, create jobs, and even reduce the federal deficit by 25 billion dollars. Opponents of this kind of reform argue that accepting waves of low-wage workers actually puts downward pressure on national wage rates, that “a path to citizenship” effectively means granting amnesty to those who have broken our laws, and that the prospect of an amnesty would create a rush across our borders by more illegal immigrants.

The event will feature:

  • For the motion: Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of National Immigration Law Center
  • Against the motion: David Frum, Senior Editor, The Atlantic
  • Moderated by: Jonathan Alter, author and journalist

Make sure to check back for the final event in the Spring 2016 Debate Series, which will feature a debate on national security vs. privacy (April 26).

This event is co-hosted by The Century Foundation and:

NYU Wagner

NYU Wagner has been educating and preparing the world’s future public service leaders since 1938. Our students translate personal commitment into nonprofit, public, and private sector careers that have an impact on the world’s most pressing issues. Our faculty conduct research that changes the way people frame, understand, analyze, and act on issues of public importance.