(Jeffrey McWhorter for The Free Press)

A Sneak Peek at Our Texas Immigration Debate

More than 700 people gathered to watch two sides battle over the No. 1 issue in the 2024 election.

In Dallas, Texas, last Thursday night, four people walked onto a stage: a libertarian, a recent dropout from the Democratic race for president, an economic populist, and Ann Coulter, who needs no introduction.

They were all asked a single question, which is also the No. 1 issue that will affect the 2024 election: Should the United States close its borders?

It’s the kind of topic that’s become impossible to talk about out loud and in public. One side accuses the other of xenophobia and racism; the other of lawlessness and cheating the electoral system. 

(Jeffrey McWhorter for The Free Press)

But at The Free Press, we believe that the issues that matter most to Americans are worth talking about in public, without fear. That’s why we partnered with FIRE to launch our new series, the America Debates, moderated by our founder, Bari Weiss.

So on Thursday at the Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas, we welcomed a crowd of 700 from states all over the nation including Utah, Indiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. We even met a few readers who flew in from London.

(Jeffrey McWhorter for The Free Press)

There were best friends from high school, women in cowboy boots, and married couples on either side of the issue—including Dr. Nina Niu Sanford, who immigrated to the U.S. from China at age three, and her husband, a native Texan born to a Mexican immigrant. (She initially voted in favor of America shutting its borders, but later switched sides—meanwhile, her husband voted the same both times: to keep the borders open).

“If you want to hear an exchange of ideas it’s basically relegated to AM radio,” a pregnant woman from Rhode Island who flew 1,700 miles to the event told me. “But you never get people like this, just sitting on a stage together, hashing out ideas.” 

(Jeffrey McWhorter for The Free Press)

Jake Billings, a 34-year-old from Utah, said he arrived believing in an open border. But when he heard Ahmari list the ways Americans without college degrees get the short end of the stick because of illegal migration, he felt swayed in a different direction.

“He just laid out how it hurts the working class, which is where I come from,” said Billings, who shared that his mother was one of 13 kids. “What can I say? I’m a facts person.” 

For those of you who weren’t able to join us—fear not! The full video of the event will be available soon to paid subscribers of The Free Press. So if you’re not already a paid subscriber, become one today:

Subscribe now

And stay tuned for information about our next debate, coming soon in San Francisco.

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