WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- With the primary election next week, campaigns are heating up. One big issue for the GOP candidates battling to take on Mike McIntyre for his seat in the US House is illegal immigration. We spoke with candidate David Rouzer and an immigration expert who is pulling for Ilario Pantano about the candidates' differing opinions.
Pantano says Rouzer supports a form of amnesty and has betrayed the conservative cause. Rouzer says he does not support amnesty and calls Pantano a protectionist.
"David Rouzer would give illegal aliens a path to citizenship and legality or voting rights and other types of things that would be very destructive to the United States,” said William Gheen, President of Americans for Legal Immigration, a conservative organization David Rouzer calls somewhat radical.
Gheen was in town this weekend rallying support for Ilario Pantano and telling voters Pantano's stance om illegal immigration versus Rouzer's.
But Rouzer says Gheen and Pantano are wrong.
"This idea that I'm for all these criminal, illegal aliens, granting them amnesty, that's just completely false and a distortion of the real record,” candidate David Rouzer said.
Both men are against the negative impacts of illegal immigration.
"It's costing Americans and legal immigrants jobs,” Gheen said. “It's depreciating wages. It's a theft of taxpayer resources. Then we have some of the criminal elements. Not all illegal aliens are murderers or hardened criminals, but we do have drunk driving crashes and other crimes caused by illegal immigration."
Rouzer agrees crime is an issue, but he believes some hardworking immigrants deserve a chance at earning legal status in order to continue working but not full citizenship.
"Their solution is to take everybody, whether they are doing good and whether they are working and doing jobs that other Americans are not willing to do and kick everybody out of here,” Rouzer said. “Well, you know agriculture is a $75,000,000,000 industry."
Another debate has to do with the district lines. Pantano says they were drawn in Rouzer's favor by his friends in the legislature. Rouzer says if anything, they are in Pantano's favor because much of the district is New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick Counties, an area where many hadn't heard of Rouzer before the race.