Should the U.S. Grant Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants? Westminster Debating Society Weighs In


Border, to avoid USA to fleed into México

A fence separating the United States and Mexico along the southern edge of San Diego, California. 


Students filled Hazel 112 Friday to listen to members of the Westminster Debating Society discuss whether or not the United States government should allow immigrants who entered the country illegally to become citizens.

“It was very cool how many people showed up for the debate,” Bailey Mitchell, ’17, said. “You could tell that everyone was quite interested in the topic and what the teams were going to say.”

In the second of the club’s “pre-election series,” teams of three gave an opening statement, rebuttal and closing statement, before taking questions from the audience.

The affirmative side began by stating that illegal immigrants contribute to social security benefits and help the United States financially.

“They are not here to leech off your tax money,” Ayush Manandhar, ’17, said. “They are here to live the American dream. … If anyone is leeching, it is us leeching from them.”

In their opening statement, the opposition side quoted Bill Clinton’s 1996 State of the Union speech, saying that although we are a nation of immigrants, “we are also a nation of laws.”

Michael Chitawo, ’16, who gave the opening statement for his team, said, “Laws are laws. They are not meant to be broken, and illegal immigration is breaking the law.”

The opposition side also stated that money earned by illegal immigrants is often sent back home and does not help the U.S.

During the rebuttal, the affirmative side said granting citizenship to illegal immigrants would add new jobs and money to the gross domestic product.

Olivia Wilson, ’19, provided a “pathway to citizenship” plan that would include background checks, fines, paying back taxes and a waiting period.


The opposition argued that illegal immigrants are violators of U.S. law, and the affirmative side argued that immigrants, even unauthorized, are important members of the national economy.

However, the opposition side stated that a plan like this would have a negative impact.

“When you reward an action, you bring more of that action,” Andrea Ramos, ’19, said.

After brief closing statements, the audience asked questions and launched further discussion relating to the topic.

“I could tell both teams had prepared well for their respective sides of the argument, and it helped that they used language that made sense to the average student who might not know a bunch about the issue prior to the debate,” Mitchell said. “This made it really entertaining and informative for the audience.”

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