WILMINGTON--Dozens gathered in Wilmington Saturday to discuss a topic that often leads to heated debates, immigration.
iiiMPACT is a two day event held to discuss illegal immigration and options for the United States when it comes to enforcing immigration laws. The fact the event was bi-partisan led to some varying opinions, and it was with raised voices and raised opinions the convention got underway.
Co-organizer of iiiMPACT Jude Eden said, "A lot of the talk is about, you know, these illegal immigrants just want a better life, they're hard working people, and a lot of them may be. But, we don't know that for a fact because they haven't gone through the immigration process."
Eden is not an immigrant, but her family has been directly impacted, even shaped, by the immigration process. "My husband became a citizen yesterday," she said proudly of her Brazilian born spouse. And Eden will be the first to admit, becoming a citizen isn't easy. "It's thousands of dollars. It's reams of paperwork. It's lots of hours and stuff waiting," she said.
But then again, some in attendance at the convention said it shouldn't be easy. President of N.C. Fire James Johnson said, "The Hispanics that came here legally are madder than the North Carolina citizens who were born here, because they went through the process and they paid their dues to become citizens."
Even those who didn't fully agree with the event organizers, say they recognize a need for change. Attendee Jack Thomason showed up to the convention wearing a white t-shirt that read "You're an immigrant too." Thomason said of immigration, "I mean it is a problem, and I think a lot of the problems being talked about are very legitimate."
However Thomason says he was frustrated with how he felt illegal immigrants were being characterized at the convention. "There seemed to be like a criminalization of undocumented individuals. I felt like they were all discussed as violent criminals or drunk drivers," he said.
But Eden said the statements made don't apply to all illegal immigrants, just some, and are supported by solid facts. "N.C. Fire ... they gave us the statistic that there are over 4,000 cases of illegal aliens who got behind the wheel drunk and killed people," she noted.
It was the opinion of the majority attending iiiMPACT that America needs to stick to its decisions and enforce them. Johnson said, "We're a nation of laws, and we need to obey our laws."
For more information about iiiMPACT, visit http://iiimpact.com/.