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British debate talks about immigration in the U.S. and E.U.

 One by one, students for the opposing team began to stand, trying to get a quick word in before the argument was over. They were waved to sit down by the speaker arguing in favor of the U.S. The event was a debate against the Cambridge Union Society from England who were arguing favorably for the European Union. The topic for the night was about immigrants and whether or not they’re more benefited by moving to an E.U. country or the United States.

 Of course there is the argument that an immigrant would struggle in either situation because neither the E.U. or the U.S. is actually hospitable to immigrants. This argument was put forth by Mckenzie Mahoney, a student at UMass Lowell.

 She wasn’t one of the competing debaters but there was a portion of the debate reserved for the crowd where the public was allowed to speak. “We do have [racist leaders] in the United States as well. They’re just as prominent here as they are there. There is no way to discriminate between the disadvantages in the European Union and disadvantages in the U.S. because they are just as bad here as they are there,” said Mahoney.

 The debaters themselves held similar beliefs after the debate was over. The only real conclusion drawn was that both the E.U. and the U.S. have a lot to do in order to make life for immigrants easier.

 The two teams were given the topic and two and a half hours to prepare for it. They had to argue a side but in this topic, it could be hard to simply pick one.

 On one hand the U.S. doesn’t really give as much access to education and free healthcare as their European counterpart. “The American education system today is commercialized. There is nowhere to get a free education,” said Rogers Muyanja, a Cambridge Union debater. Muyanja considers access to education a human right and that it needs to be free.

 Ruby Holmes, also a Cambridge Union student, argued against the U.S. healthcare system which, while improving under Obama, still hasn’t caught up to the single-payer method European countries have. “In the U.S. you are entitled to nothing,” says Holmes.

 But there is an argument to be made against the E.U. For example, the issue of unemployment in the E.U. was brought up by almost every member of the debate team. The E.U. unemployment rate is currently hovering around 10% while the U.S. has dropped down to 5.6% under the Obama administration after the recession.

 The issue of education grants for higher education was also brought up. The U.S. has more than the E.U. “There aren’t nearly as many grants in the U.K. as there is in the U.S.,” said Arun Shanmuganatham, another debater for the American side.

 However, somehow, despite the extra we give out in grants, the European Union does better. According to Muyanja, the U.S. in math proficiency has dropped from 24th to 29th in the world. The student loan system in the U.S. was also mocked.

 Language was an important issue for the night as well. Debashree Chakrabarti argued that the U.S. is predominantly an English-speaking country and if you don’t know it, you’ll struggle as an immigrant. “Obama has said that the U.S. is lagging behind in learning a second and third language,” said Chakrabarti.

 Tim Squirrel argued with Chakrabarti but did admit that “you’ll have to learn a new language no matter where you go.”

 All of these issues constitute an outline for the struggle for the American dream. Alexander Wright, while understanding the criticisms of United States, simply argued that it is precisely these struggles that pay for the dream itself. “You can have job security after you graduate,” said Wright optimistically.

 The crowd seemed to share this optimism with 31 voting towards the U.S., 18 voting with the European Union and 5 abstentions. But Arun Shanmuganatham and Muhammad Asadullah Khan both believed that the crowd might have held a bias prior to coming into the debate.

 Ruby Holmes also spoke of the American dream and how a work ethic couldn’t be distinctly American when so many immigrants come to the E.U. for the same thing. “That is the basis of the American dream right? You have to work,” says Holmes.

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