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Prominent Republican Political Commentator Bay Buchanan Talks Immigration

<t often that conservative views are heard on campus.  For this reason, prominent Republican Political Commentator Bay Buchanan created quite a buzz amongst students when she spoke about immigration at Carleton last Friday.  Her controversial convocation address was timely as it followed Leo Chavez’s more liberal convocation address on immigration.

Buchanan began her address by discussing the arguments for the new immigration bill in the Senate. “How is it not already the law, if it is good for the American people, good for national security and good for the United States,” said Buchanan, “the reason is because it’s none of those things.”

Buchanan argued that the bill would harm national security by permanently hampering law enforcement and would hurt the economy by increasing unemployment and decreasing wages and GDP.

She acknowledged that immigration has contributed to America’s prosperity but now “the numbers are massive [and] it’s completely uncontrolled.”  It creates a burden on local, state and federal governments to provide them with welfare such as free education and free medical.

She disagreed with critics who argue immigrants do work that Americans do not want to do. “That’s completely false,” said Buchanan, “Americans are doing the work [and] it’s hard to say a single industry, in which Americans are not doing the work.”  Indeed, immigrants compete with Americans for jobs.

“There are millions of Americans working with their hands trying to make a living out there,” she said, “they’re very vulnerable and we are bringing people into this country to compete with them.”

She contended that one out of twelve people crossing the border between the United States and Mexico have criminal intent and concluded, “we better start doing something to secure that border and we are doing nothing that makes any meaningful difference.”

She rejected the idea that people who oppose illegal immigration must be racist, saying she is one of many Americans who “see this uncontrolled mass of immigration as something that will absolutely deconstruct our country into conglomerates of people who have nothing in common.”

She contrasted the current immigrants who “are coming not to be American” and do not care about American culture with previous immigrants who “had to take a boat” to come to America and wanted to become American.

She concluded by offering some steps to fix the problem.  The United States government should stop illegal immigration, because “it’s against the law.”

The government should also fix the visa system, so “we know who’s here and when they’re here, they have all the things they need, but then it has to stop whatever day their visa runs out.”

Finally, companies should be required to use the e-verify system to test all employees’ immigration status so that undocumented immigrants cannot work.

Students and members of the Carleton community listened intently to her words as she made her case against illegal immigration. Many students disagreed with her views, some had extremely negative reactions and a few agreed with her positions.

“I have huge differences with her.” said Nikki Rhodes ’14 “but it’s still been awesome to hear people talking about [immigration] around campus.”

“I think Bay did an incredible job,” said Vince Spinner ‘15, “I thought it definitely started a conversation on campus.”

Some students wished Carleton brought more moderate conservatives to convocation. “It seems as though people with more extreme views are brought in, so that the average liberal Carl can compare themselves to them and be thankful they aren’t so extreme, instead of seeking common ground,” said Tyler Gebauer ’14.

“I think we sorely need more discussion of conservative opinions on campus,” said said Kyohei Yazawa ’14, “but Bay Buchanan didn’t approach her subject  with the amount of rigor and care that our campus expects out of our speakers.”

Some students considered the convocation a failure. “This is a disappointment for liberals and conservatives alike,” said Matt Weinstein ’14, “liberals were merely angered by her foolishness, and conservatives were made to look bad by someone who turned out to be a nonsensical extremist.”

However, other students considered her argument convincing. “I thought that Ms. Buchanan spoke with passion and clarity, not apologizing for her belief system,” said Brian Kremers ’16.

Some students found Buchan’s views personally offensive, “I found Bay’s views on “assimilation” and the so-called threat to American culture particularly offensive, because it felt like a personal attack on me, given that I hold an American passport, but value my Indian cultural heritage,” said Abhimanyu Lele ’16.

However, other students thought Buchanan’s views should not offend anyone. “I think we should be able to bring ourselves to a level where we rise above the emotions of it, you should be able to have civil discourse and civil debate over serious issues that are facing our country without becoming personally offended or attached to the topic,” said Spinner.

Students in Interfaith Social Action (IFSA) placed fliers on the seats that presented facts about immigration and dropped a banner at the end of Buchanan’s talk reading: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Students had mixed views of the student response to the convocation. “I am really proud of how Carleton students responded to her hateful message – I felt the banners and pamphlets during convo were a very respectful and constructive way to respond,” said Burke.

“I found the convo and luncheon quite disappointing,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous, “Not because of the speaker or the speech, but the way in which Bay was received by Carleton students. Students openly laughed in her face and a banner hung in her face the entire time she spoke.”

Students generally agreed that Buchanan’s speech started a conversation on campus that is not normally heard.

“It is important to be confronted by opinions that we disagree with if for no other reason than to learn how to counter them,” said Burke, “Her presence created a space for conversations that would probably not have happened organically.

“I appreciated that Ms. Buchanan acknowledged she was a conservative politician speaking to a group of very liberal students,” said Julia Kroll ’16, “She didn’t focus exclusively on trying to convince us to agree with her, but rather left us with the general message of continuing discourse with people who have different opinions.”

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