SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - While many people across the country are discussing the government shutdown, Wednesday night Salt Lake area leaders are debating immigration. The University of Utah held a moderated debate to discuss the issue of legalization for undocumented immigrants.
"Let's face it, it's not about granting people legal status in the United States," said Arturo Morales, Legal Immigrants for Immigration Law Enforcement.
"We've got to give these workers not only the rights to citizenship, but the responsibilities of citizenship to go with them," said Jean Hill, Salt Lake Catholic Diocese.
The topic is immigration reform. Wednesday, Salt Lake area leaders are debating it in front of eager students at the University of Utah.
"Self deportation happens and it happens quite frequently," said Robert Wren, Utahns for Immigration Reform and Enforcement.
"It's much more complex than to say what Robert says 'let's just have them self deport', that's not going to work," said Tony Yapias, Proyecto Latino de Utah.
The discussion panel includes legalization advocates Tony Yapias and Jean Hill, and immigration enforcement advocates Robert Wren and Arturo Morales. The University's John R. Park Debate Society organized Wednesday night's discussion and made it open to the public.
"It's an important issue, especially coming up in 2014 with other issues regarding even the Affordable Care Act for instance, so we figured it was an important topic to discuss," said Barbara Ochoa, Univ. of Utah debate student.
The focus is on whether or not to grant legal status for undocumented immigrants.
"American citizenship is more valuable than just giving it to people who automatically come (here)," said Wren.
"At this point, any way it can get debated and voted on is going to be an important thing," said Yapias.
But even though Wednesday's panel may not agree on the issue, they're pleased the University is providing the platform.
"Oh, I think it's great opportunity, I think it's a wonderful idea to bring these ideas to more people particularly students who seem to have more passion about politics in general," said Hill.
It's likely we're going to be hearing much more about this topic in the next coming months. One of the Congressman who's bringing the idea forward of legalization without citizenship, is Utah Rep. Chris Stewart.
Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @briancarlsontv