Immigration: National Discussion and Debate Series

Immigration: National Discussion and Debate Series

On May 15, 2008, the National Discussion and Debate Series hosted the final debate of its 2007-2008 season in the New York Public Library. Four participants had one hour to debate the proposed resolution: 

Resolved: Our national interests require a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants presently here

Arguing for the resolution:

Tamar Jacoby is President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation of local coalitions working to raise public understanding and acceptance of immigration. A nationally known journalist and author, she was a fellow at the Manhattan Institute from 1989 to 2007, where she wrote and commented extensively on immigration and citizenship and played a leading role in Washington advancing immigration reform. She is the author of Someone Else's House: America's Unfinished Struggle for Integration (Free Press, 1998), and Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means to Be American (Basic Books, 2004). From 1987 to 1989, Jacoby was a senior writer and justice editor for Newsweek, and was the deputy editor of the New York Times op-ed page between 1981 and 1987. In 2004, President Bush appointed her to serve on the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Eliseo Medina has served as International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) since 1996, becoming the first Mexican-American elected to a top post at the 1.9 million-member union. Medina has helped make SEIU the fastest-growing union on the West Coast and the largest union in California. He currently is leading its efforts to help unite workers in seventeen states to improve their jobs and the services they provide in their communities. An immigrant himself, Medina worked alongside labor leader and civil rights organizer Cesar Chavez and served as a labor activist for thirteen years with the United Farm Workers, rising through the ranks to become national vice president. He was a key strategist in the Los Angeles strike by SEIU Local 1877's building service workers, who in April 2000 won the largest wage increase in the fifteen-year history of SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign.

Arguing against the resolution:

Vernon M. Briggs Jr. is Emeritus Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, where he specializes in human resource economics and public policy. Briggs' research has also focused on minority participation in apprenticeship training, Chicano employment issues, and immigration policy and the American labor force. He previously served as Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received the Jean Holloway Award for Teaching Excellence awarded by the EX-Students Association in 1974. In addition to being a member of the National Council on Employment Policy, Briggs has served on the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public and Private Ventures and the Center for Immigration Studies. He is the author of Immigration and American Unionism (Cornell University Press, 2001), and Mass Immigration and the National Interest: Policy Directions for the New Century (M.E. Sharpe, 2003).

Mark Krikorian is Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that promotes stricter immigration standards and enforcement. Before joining CIS in 1995, Krikorian was an editor at the Winchester Star and the editor of the monthly newsletter of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Frequently testifying before Congress, he has published articles in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Commentary, and has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nightline, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN, and National Public Radio. Krikorian is a regular contributor to the National Review as well as a frequent participant on National Review's "The Corner." He is the author of The New Case against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal (Sentinel, 2008).


Until he retired in October 1995, Robert MacNeil was Executive Editor and co-anchor of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, a 20-year nightly partnership with Jim Lehrer on PBS. He began his 40-year career as a correspondent for Reuters, NBC News, and the BBC before joining PBS in 1971, where he first teamed with Jim Lehrer to co-anchor public television's Emmy-winning coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings. Their collaboration led to The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, launched in October 1975. After eight years and significant impact on broadcast journalism, the program became The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the nation's first full hour of evening news. They founded MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and produced many programs broadcast on PBS, network, and cable television. MacNeil has won numerous awards, including Peabody Awards, a Dupont-Columbia Award and the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award. In February 1999, with Jim Lehrer, MacNeil was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. He is the author of several books, and his memoir, Looking for My Country: Finding Myself in America, was published in 2003.