Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

High drama but few low blows

March 11, 2011 by Stefan Frank


It seems everywhere you turn these days–from Arizona, to Pennsylvania, to Utah, and Capitol Hill–emotions are running high and frustrations are boiling over with respect to the issue of immigration reform.

The National Constitution Center opened its doors last Saturday night to several key participants in the immigration reform debate with opposing views, including Pennsylvania State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA/12) and ACLU lawyer Cecillia Wang.

The high powered and provocative conversation, which also included Fellows of the 2011 Peter Jennings Project, focused on the constitutional core of this debate: the interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause.

Jeff Greenfield, Senior Political Correspondent for CBS News, led a theatrical, hypothetical dialogue (reminiscent of the Fred Friendly Seminars made famous on PBS) that included Professor John Eastman of Chapman University, Jorge Mursuli, President of Democracia Ahora, and Judge Marjorie Rendell of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sparks certainly flew, but in this unique program–where Jennings Fellows played the role of legal and illegal immigrants, business owners, and law enforcement agents–real life situations presented themselves with a genuine complexity and, on occasion, humor that diffused the tension so often present in this debate.

While some familiar sound bites made their way into the program, the plurality of voices and concerns created an atmosphere where real ideas, thought, and arguments could be considered. If only the world was a stage.

Watch the video and let us know who you think won this round…Stefan Frank is the National Constitution Center's Director of Digital Engagement and manager of Constitution Daily's Twitter account @ConDailyBlog. Follow us!

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