The NAACP Arlington Chapter hosted a political forum with Tarrant County Republican Chair Bo French and Democrat Party Chair Crystal Gayden on Tuesday, drawing a mixed crowd of Republicans and Democrats.

Dr. Jason E. Shelton, associate professor of Sociology and director of the Center for African American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, moderated the event, which discussed topics ranging from abortion to immigration reform.

Gayden said that the Democratic party supports a “regenerated, revamped, refocused immigration reform that takes into consideration the undocumented people who are here and the contributions they have made to our community.”

“Many undocumented persons have lived here and owned property, made a business for themselves, and made a life for their families; they have contributed successfully. And before we take action to simply just send them away, there should be an accounting, an assessment, of the contributions that they have made here to our community,” Gayden said.

“The consideration that I make is that if your first act to coming to this country is to break the law, then maybe we should frown on that,” French responded.

He argued that illegal aliens are taking resources away from American citizens.

“They’re coming in and getting all kinds of free stuff that our tax money is going for. They’re getting stipends, they’re getting cell phones, they’re getting put up in fancy hotel rooms in New York City. … We can’t afford that; our country is broke,” French said.

Gayden argued that the country should carefully address the crisis at the southern border, and she took issue with the idea that some generalize all immigrants as criminals.

“To some degree, I’m kind of off-put with the idea that people come over here, and their intention is to break the law. I think that whole blanket approach is where we get off in our ideas and policy-making on immigration,” Gayden said. “A lot of people are coming here for safety and protection, and that should be a huge consideration. … Everybody — immigrants, undocumented persons — are not all here to commit a crime.”

Both chairs talked about election integrity, with Gayden arguing that there has been no proof of widespread voter fraud.

“There is no evidence to support why we would have an entire unit dedicated to the prosecution of illegal voting when there has not been a finding of it,” Gayden said.

French argued that no matter how secure they are, making local elections more secure is worthwhile.

“The Republican Party position here in Tarrant County is we want to make our elections more secure. There are different opinions on how secure they are; my position is, I just want to make them more secure, and I think that’s a noble goal, and I think it is something that everyone ought to support,” French said.

Abortion was also a topic of discussion.

“Scientists the world over agree that life begins at conception, so that’s a life,” French said.

French cited his Christian faith as a reason for his anti-abortion position, and he claimed that the abortion industry was created to “exterminate the black community.”

“If you just look at the history of abortion in this country, it is explicitly started by a racist who was trying to exterminate black people; that was their stated goal. And if you look at where they put abortion clinics, they’re in black communities, so they’re still trying to exterminate black people.

“There are people in this room that ought to take offense to that because I take offense to that,” French added.

Gayden argued that laws banning abortion were not made by a representative government.

“I think our government got it wrong when they banned abortion. There are times in a woman’s life where her doctor and her health care needs require her to have an abortion. And so there should have been and should be consideration for those types of facts and circumstances,” Gayden asserted, adding these decisions were not made by “persons with uteruses.”