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Illegal Immigration conference downtown draws a crowd; Pantano talks lobbying for lax enforcement

A conference to discuss illegal immigration brought dozens of people to the Cape Fear Community College Schwartz Center in downtown Wilmington on Saturday.WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports that guest speakers included activists, politicians, and current and former candidates.

Ilario Pantano is most recently known for his challenge of North Carolina Senator David Rouzer in this year’s primary for the Republican spot in the 7th Congressional District race.  But on Saturday as a guest speaker at the iiImpact conference, he was there to talk about special interest groups lobbying for laxer immigration laws and enforcement. 

Pantano is an outspoken critic of current immigration laws – calling the nation’s border policy “schizophrenic”.  But as the son of a legal immigrant, he says he’s sensitive to the issue and has sympathy for the plight of poor nations around the globe. 

“This is not about an ethnicity. This is not about the color of your skin.  This is not about the sound of your name or your accent.  My name is Ilario Pantano.  My father speaks in a very heavy accent.  He came to America from Italy.  I’m sympathetic.  But I know that this can be done legally and it’s a national security problem when it’s not.”

Other guest speakers included Congressman Mike McIntyre, State Representative Frank Iler, State Senator Thom Goolsby, and conservative local talk show host Curtis Wright. 

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.