NewsPublic Affairs / December 7, 2019

GOP District Five Congressional Candidates Talk Immigration In Forum

GOP District Five Congressional Candidates Talk Immigration In Forum

From left to right, Danny Niederberger, Beth Henderson, Chuck Dietzen, Micah Beckwith, Andrew Bales and Kent Abernathy.

Darian Benson/WFYI

Several Republican Candidates for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District participated in a forum Saturday.

The seat is currently held by Republican Susan Brooks who is not seeking a fifth term. Seven GOP candidates are now slated to compete in the May primary. All but one participated in the forum, and topics included abortion and the economy, but immigration dominated.

All candidates disagree with the lottery and support merit-based immigration. And like businessman and pastor Micah Beckwith, all agree the system is broken.

“This is not about telling people they’re not welcome, it is about doing it the right way,” Beckwith says. “We have to know who is in our nation, we have to be able to protect our people from people who don’t like us coming into our nation.”

Former Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and veteran Kent Abernathy is in support of immigration reform.

“We need to secure the border, we need to enforce the laws that are in place and we need to sit down and have a serious conversation about comprehensive immigration reform,” Abernathy says.

Chuck Dietzen, former chief of pediatric health rehabilitation at Riley Hospital for children, is in favor of tighter border control.

“We clearly need order at the border,” Dietzen says. “It needs to be totally reformed.”

Nurse and small business owner Beth Henderson agrees.

“We need to build the wall,” Henderson says. “We need to secure the 2,000 miles between Mexico and the United States. We need to protect the border, we also need to reform the immigration system.”

Veteran and retired teacher Andrew Bales and businessman Danny Niederberger touched on sanctuary cities. They disagree with them.

“We’re allowing lots of immigration into this country,” Bales says. “It’s the illegal immigration across the board. It’s the sanctuary cities that are the problem.”

The only substantial point of disagreement was about whether or not to pull troops from Afghanistan. Abernathy was the only one who did not call for immediate troop withdrawal.

“You got to complete the task, you got to do the job,” Abernathy says. “We need to remain committed to the Middle East.”

Indiana State Treasurer Kelley Mitchell had a prior engagement.

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