By Duane Paul Murphy
Several Catholic University of America undergraduate students participated in CNN’s live televised town hall program with Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Two students, a sophomore and a junior, had a fortunate opportunity to speak directly to the senator about the major national issues.
Sophomore politics and anthropology major Regina Brennan from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania asked Sanders about how he would halt President Trump’s proposed border wall as well as the future of immigration reform at a time where nativism and xenophobia are on the rise. Sanders, who is an independent senator from Vermont, said that he opposes the proposed border wall as well as President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. The senator also expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform such as a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented foreign nationals.
Brennan was satisfied with Sanders’ response to her own question.
“I thought his response was fantastic,” Brennan said. “The last few months, I have worried that the wall would become a reality — a symbol, not only of hate, but of absolute ignorance, considering Mexican immigration to the United States has been declining since 2008.” Brennan was glad to see Sanders on the side of the immigrants.
“When he told me that he does not think the wall would be an issue, I felt relieved, but to have heard him then continue on about how we need comprehensive immigration reform, the entire crowd cheered in agreement. I’m comforted knowing that immigration is playing a big role in his platform,” Brennan said.
A second student in attendance was junior politics major Samantha Hakeem from New Bedford, Massachusetts. Hakeem, who interned for Massachusetts Congressman William Keating and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, asked how small and medium size business owners can be reassured that raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour would not negatively affect their own companies. Sanders said in response to her question that raising wages towards a living wage overall and overtime would reduce poverty for working class people and increase consumer spending.
“I greatly appreciated Senator Sanders’ response to my question; however, I do wish he had provided more details on how exactly one can reassure small business owners that they would not have to lay off employees if the federal minimum wage is raised,” Hakeem said.
Hakeem was also content with Sanders’ assurance that raising the minimum wage towards a living wage would be a gradual process to implement.
“He did explain that this is a gradual process and not something that would occur instantly and that when individuals are receiving more income, they are more likely to spend it in there communities,” Hakeem said.
The town hall was broadcasted from CNN’s Washington, D.C. bureau with senior personality Wolf Blitzer as host and moderator.
Sanders ran a grassroots campaign three years ago in the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary election, and lost to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.According to a recent Tuesday, March 5 Morning Consultant public opinion poll, Sanders, alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, are among the two major frontrunners in the Democratic Party presidential primary. Other candidates such as California Senator Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke are polled at less than 10%. Biden and O’Rourke have yet to announce their potential presidential candidacies.