Connecticut gubernatorial hopeful Mark Stewart joined the Yale Political Union Monday night to debate whether the United States should, for now, deny amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

The Union voted against the evening’s anti-amnesty resolution by a vote of 10 to 29, with three abstentions.

During the hour-and-a-half-long debate in the auditorium of Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, Stewart took the position that undocumented immigrants should not be granted amnesty. Chicago mayoral candidate and current Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” Garcia was invited to debate the other side of the issue, but Garcia could not attend because of a family emergency. Stewart argued that government should take a more limited role on immigration law.

“Better safety isn’t achieved through the government,” Stewart said. “Don’t trust the government.”

Met with hisses from the left side of the auditorium and soft applause from the right, Stewart spoke about the need for improved border control. He also suggested that the government was ineffective at preventing illegal immigration.

Members of left-leaning and centrist parties pushed back against Stewart’s argument. President of the Independent Party Sandy Pecht ’19 said Stewart seemed to advocate that the United States had “no moral obligation to aimmigrants.” Pecht’s words were met with hoots of approval from the left side of the room.

Still, some at Monday’s speech supported Stewart.

“The freest states are also the most xenophobic ones, such as South Korea and Japan,” said Cole Aronson, a member of the Party of the Right. “Those states that are not xenophobic are or are in the process of becoming ghetto states.”

The atmosphere in the auditorium was electric for most of the night. Toward the end of his speech, though, Stewart went on a tangent on issues of health care and education, which drew quiet laughter and audible hisses from numerous members of the Union.

He closed the debate with a speech addressing each remark made by the previous student speakers. He also implored students to consider working for his upcoming gubernatorial campaign.

The Connecticut gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 6, 2018.

Christopher Sung | christopher.sung@yale.edu