U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) was pressed by a packed house on issues like illegal immigration and gun violence at a town hall meeting Wednesday night in Milford, Delaware.
Dozens of residents, some having traveled from as far as Northern New Castle County, turned out to the Carlisle Fire Department for Senator Coons’ highly anticipated town hall where a host of issues were discussed but none more so than that of illegal immigration.
With the current crisis at the southern border and debate concerning illegal immigration, many residents were curious to know the Senator’s position, including Terry Baker, of Townsend, who recieved an answer that most were not expecting.
“I disagree with people in my party who think that crossing the border should no longer be an offense, and who think that we should provide unlimited benefits or education to people who cross the border illegally, or that we should eliminate ICE,” Sen. Coons said. “If we don’t have strong borders, we cannot be a strong nation.”
Sen. Coons has long held this position. Last July, he was quoted in the Washington Examiner saying his party is “shifting too far to the left” and called the notion of fixing the nation’s broken immigration system without abolishing ice “bold.”
The Senator also stressed the need for humane treatment of migrants at the southern border, who under the Trump administration have in many cases been seperated from their families. “I also think we have to treat humanely people who come to this country with a legitmate refugee or asylum claim.”
Baker was not fully satisfied with the Senator’s answer, saying “We got babies in the streets starving and dying, and that was my whole thing. I want the border fixed, I want those people taken care of, I want all people taken care of, but I want Americans taken care of first.”
Following that exchange, Sen. Coons further emphasized that both sides, including his progressive colleagues who have called for open borders, do not have all the answers on solving the issue that has divided much of the country.
“What I hope you all hear me saying is I don’t think the left-end of my party or the right-end of the other party has all the answers on this,” Sen. Coons said in response. “I think there is an answer that’s in the center, but if we pretend that we can be a nation with just wideopen borders, we can’t, and if we pretend that we can turn a blindeye to people who are fleeing persecution and opression in some countries, I don’t think we can do that either.”
“We cannot be a country where a million people a year cross the border without consequence,” said Sen. Coons. “That is not sustainable.”
Also discussed was the issue of gun violence, mass shootings, and the corresponding calls for gun control that follow such incidents like the recent tragedies in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio where a combined 31 people were killed.
Sen. Coons placed a heightened focus on finding a solution to prevent school shootings like the one that killed 31 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“It’s not hypothetical, it’s happening more and more frequently,” Sen. Coons said of the heinous assaults on schools across the country. “I personally don’t think that arming teachers, we put all sorts of requirments and responsibilities, we ask teachers to deal with every challenge in our society and why on earth we should arm teachers, I don’t understand.”
Instead, Sen. Coons expressed strong support for additional resources to prevent such tragedies from occuring, including federal grant programs to increase security at schools across the country and increasing the number of school resource officers.
“Providing more school resource officers, providing grants that make schools harder to get into and to assault, and that facilitate communication with parents and inparticular with law enforcement and first responders,” Sen. Coons said. “I do support grant programs federally that are helping state and local schools.”
Also discussed were issues surrounding mental health treatment, prescription drug prices, and first responders.
WGMD’s Jake Smith was in attendance and wasn’t shy about asking a question that he claims Senator Coons has dodged for at least nine years – whether or not he was complicit in the tampering or stealing of his opponent, Christine O’Donnell’s campaign signs during the 2010 election.
“There’s a nagging question that you have not answered since 2010,” Jake Smith stated. “Did you steal, remove, or tamper with Christine O’Donnell’s road signs as people have sworn that they have seen you do?”
In the midst of an eruption of laughter, Sen. Coons responded humorously saying “no, why would I do that?”
“You always learn something from a town hall,” concluded a smiling Sen. Coons.