On Oct. 18, The University of Southern Mississippi’s debate team held a meeting where they competed against the British National Debate Team to discuss open borders.
The British National Debate Team has traveled to Southern Miss for the past seven years to debate on various topics. Southern Miss’ team consisted of members John Beckham and Iyanna Marshall, while the British team featured Méabh McMahon Flanagan from Wales and Owen Mooney from Scotland.
The Southern Miss debate team argued for the support of open borders with background checks, while the British team presented their reasons for more closed, secure borders. The debate was split up into five parts, culminating in a vote to determine which team won.
“Today, we think we have a world where it is harder to move across borders than it is to have none, so we would want to see less restrictions,” explained senior history major John Beckham. “We’re holding that we should get rid of visas and instead do background checks on people to decide if they can move across borders.”
During the first part, the British team, represented by Flanagan, argued that if more people immigrated towards other countries, then things such as their culture and native languages would be lost by transitioning into a nation’s way of doing things. Flanagan also said open borders are only good in certain circumstances, but to control who comes in and out, closed borders and visas are a necessity.
Halfway through the debate, audience members were allowed to ask both teams questions regarding points they had brought up in their speeches. One audience member, Hattiesburg resident Victoria Gonzalez, questioned the British debate team on the importance of major cities like Miami, a city this person emigrated to after leaving Cuba in the 1990s.
Gonzalez explained that people like her are major benefactors to a city like Miami and that there are people willing to adhere to what America stands for in order to make a living and generally have a better life compared to where they came from.
After the audience Q&A and further debating, the panel held a vote to determine which team presented their arguments best. Once votes were tallied up, the debate was contested as a draw between the two teams.
Students said that they thought both sides performed well, and the general consensus after the debate was in favor of open borders.
Beckham said that he was happy the British National Debate Team was able to bring their ideas to Mississippi.
“The new is what we’re really striving for,” Beckham said. “New things can be created when cultures come together.”
Corrections to this story were made on October 23, 2018:
John Beckham was listed as a public speaking major but is a history major. Méabh McMahon Flanagan’s name was misprinted as May Macklehaim. Owen Mooney’s name was misprinted as Owen Glasgow.