Rep. Tim Bishop and his Republican opponent, state Sen. Lee Zeldin, agreed during a candidates night forum in Coram that Congress must take action on immigration bills, but they disagreed about what to do.
Bishop (D-Southampton) said during the Monday night forum that he favors a "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants. Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is seeking to unseat Bishop, said children detained after crossing the border into the United States should be deported and "reunited with their families back home."
Bishop and Zeldin both blamed partisan gridlock for the House of Representatives' failure to act on the issue.
"I believe our Congress could be functioning a lot better now," Zeldin told an audience of about 50 people at the Coram Fire Department.
Bishop said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent House members home this summer without voting on an immigration bill. "We have a lot of work that we still need to do," Bishop said.
The exchange was one of the few discordant moments during Monday's forum, which featured 17 candidates for various federal, state, Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town offices.
The candidates were unanimous in opposing the controversial Common Core educational standards and the possible siting of a casino in Medford.
Most candidates at the forum said they opposed hydrofracking, a method of extracting natural gas from underground, because the process may harm the environment. Republican Dean Murray, who is seeking to unseat Assemb. Edward Hennessey (D-Shirley), said he supports hydrofracking, but would require drilling companies to reveal potentially toxic material that may be extracted.
"I do believe our economy needs a kick-start," said Murray.
Most candidates said they supported alternative energy sources to reduce power costs.
Environmentalist Adrienne Esposito, running against Islip Supervisor Tom Croci for Zeldin's state Senate seat, said she supported a plan to build a wind farm about 30 miles off Montauk Point. "It's not a new technology," said Esposito, a registered independent running with Democratic support. "We don't have to import oil from countries that don't like us."
Croci, a Republican, said new energy sources must withstand natural disasters such as superstorm Sandy.
"Whatever we do, it has to be with a view for a technology that's sustainable and can be available in the worst of times," he said.