Debbie Riddle v. Norman Adams - The Great Immigration Debate

At the December meeting of the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce, Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle (R-150th) and Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy Founder Norman Adams teamed up for a fascinating debate on the subject of illegal immigration. Over 400 people attended the event including elected officials, candidates, business leaders and community activists on both sides of the fence. The debate was moderated by former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt.

The sold out crowd was entertained and informed for the next 52 minutes as the two covered a variety of topics including border security, immigration reform, tax policy, driver's licenses for immigrants and leaky bathtubs.  One of the best things that came out of the debate was an illustration of how respectful debate by people who have many disagreements on a subject can find common ground and points upon which change can be made to move an issue forward.

Earlier this year, Riddle earned a reputation as a hardline legislator who was determined to make changes in this most recent session to have Texas follow Arizona's lead in implementing what many perceive as anti-immigrant policies.

Norman Adams, working on behalf of TxSIP, spent an enormous amount of time in Austin during the last session of the legislature, testifying against many of Riddle's bills.  One thing was certain - This would be a very interesting debate.

Bettencourt opened the debate by setting goals of determining what solutions we can find together and what differences will remain.  Watch now as Debbie Riddle and Norman Adams provide their insight and solutions to this very difficult issue.

Early in the debate it became clear that these two people, who thought they were on opposite ends of the spectrum on this issue, were actually much closer than they suspected.  For instance, both agree on the need to secure the border.  Both agree that we must not give amnesty to people who have broken our laws to come here illegally.

Bettencourt summed up the debate citing the areas of agreement. In addition to those, both agreed on the need to identify all who are in this country illegally with a modern, biometric identification card; that we should not have a policy that would deport millions of people who have come here to perform honest work; and that people who are willing to serve in our military should, upon completion of honorable service in the armed forces, be moved to the head of the immigration line with a pathway to citizenship.

After the debate, Adams presented Rep. Riddle with Texas Yellow Roses as a gesture of their long standing friendship.

Issues remaining unresolved included whether we can develop an immigration reform package at the same time we are securing the border (Riddle believes the immigration reform cannot happen until the border is secured). Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants are a second major area of disagreement.  Texas recently passed a law banning issuing driver's licenses to illegal aliens.  This new law virtually guarantees that nearly every car driven by an illegal alien will be uninsured.

Because of the overwhelming response to this debate, a follow-up debate has been scheduled for January 10, 2012.  Round Two will be hosted by the Texas Tea Party Republican Women's Club.  Dinner will be at 6:30 and the debate will follow at 7 pm.  Paul Bettencourt will again moderate this debate which promises to be equally informative and entertaining!  Contact Kay Smith via email (KMS7 @ to make reservations for the Great Debate II.

These issues are very important for us as Texans and for all Americans. It is very important that our border be secured as a matter of national security. It is equally important that we find a way to talk about this issue in ways that are respectful of the positions of others and supports conservative values of families and the rule of law. Very difficult choices lay before us, but if we can engage in respectful dialog progress can be made and solutions that will serve all of us will be found.

As Conservatives and Republicans we should remember that when we work together, the greatness of American will always rise to the top. It is important that we protect American citizens from those who would do us harm.  It is also important that we recognize the economic reality that our aging population requires an ever growing workforce to support it. More jobs, legal immigration and a secured border are great solutions we can work towards and we can work on all of them at once.  Every day we delay on immigration reform is a victory to those who seek open borders, chaos and lawlessness in our country. See you at the next debate!



Make sure to check out comments on Facebook.

Riddle's "secure the border first" is a simplistic slogan that falls flat. Approximately 45% of the illegal aliens came here legally and then overstayed their visas and the attempted illegal border crossings are at a forty year low. Instead, what is needed is mandatory E-verify and a biometric social security card accompanied by legalization of the otherwise law abiding undocumented immigrants plus visa reform for high- and low-skilled workers.

Emma, you are correct.  However, many Americans have completely lost faith in our government to do what it says it will do. It is going to take some serious effort and a demonstration of committment to border security, to get many people to even have a rational discussion about the kinds of reforms that are required to fix our broken immigration system.


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