Insults fly in discussion of immigration policy under Trump

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The controversial topic of immigration policy under President Trump led to a fiercer-than normal debate at the typically polite Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg Friday afternoon; it got off to a steamy start even by the end of introductions where one panelist, Republican Party state committeeman Christian Ziegler insisted he isn’t a racist — that even his brothers from Eastern Europe should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. While in this exchange the other panelist, the former head of the Manatee County Democratic Party, CJ Czaia, accused him of being ignorant.

ZIEGLER: “Those individuals that bring benefits, that create jobs, that pay for themselves, that are not criminals and that’s what we need to be focused on when we start talking about immigration. Not just “undocumented” that we’re not humanitarian for keeping them here. I think it’s important to keep that, you know, in mind as we take questions, as we discuss this issue. But, I look forward to taking your questions and answering more specific policy stuff as they come up. But, thank you so much.”

CZAIA: “You’re not a racist, just so you know. It’s OK.”

ZEIGLER: “And you’re very polite.”

CZAIA: “No, I’m not going to be polite. I’m not going to be– If your policies work, you’re going to be responsible for the deaths of 3 people.”

MODERATOR: “Hey. We’re not in here asking questions.”

CZAIA: “Alright? So, don’t forget that. I deal with that.”

ZEIGLER: “I will tell you, just to counter that, I am gonna be civil in this discussion. [applause] I am a Republican. I give a lot of friendly campaign advice to my democrat friends. Believe it or not, I have a lot of democrat friends. And one of the problems that the left has is they are getting very personal, very nasty, and that’s why they will continue to lose at the ballot box.”

CZAIA: “I’m not the left.”

ZEIGLER: “This will be an interesting discussion. But, hopefully we can keep it civil.”

CZAIA: “I’m not the left.”

They also differed when responding to a question about the costs of unauthorized immigration.

Listen to the full discussion here:

Watch the full discussion here (in two parts). Part 1:

Watch the full discussion here (in two parts). Part 2: