The two major party candidates for Iowa’s third district congressional seat sparred over immigration policy during a face-to-face meeting this morning in an Iowa Public Television studio.

Republican challenger Jeff Lamberti said Democrat Congressman Leonard Boswell has sent an “inconsistent” message on immigration. “As recently as last year, (Boswell) voted against completing a security fence. (Boswell) voted to allow illegal Mexican immigrants to use their consular ID cards to open up…bank accounts and then also voted to allow illegal immigrants to have food stamps,” Lamberti said. “I don’t think the people of the third district want their hard-earned tax dollars going to food stamps for illegal immigrants.”

Lamberti said Boswell has not been “serious enough” about controlling the border, and is only paying attention to the issue now because it’s an election year. Boswell said Lamberti is “misrepresenting” his record in congress. “There he goes again,” Boswell said. “Months ago…I voted to put troops on the border while we had an opportunity for the border patrol to get ready to do this. I am in favor…of fencing in certain areas but not the whole length of it.”

Boswell advocated the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol vast expanses of the U.S./Mexican border. “It works so we can put them up at much less expense,” Boswell said. Boswell defended his vote to give food stamps to illegal immigrants. “I don’t think we’re in favor of not feeding somebody that’s hungry,” Boswell said.

Lamberti said he sticks by his main contentions. “There was no distortion in the three votes I mentioned on immigration in terms of food stamps for illegal immigrants, voting against completing the fence and allowing Mexican illegals to use their consular card,” Lamberti said.

Boswell interrupted Lamberti to reply that there’s no need to build a wall along the entire U.S./Mexican border if aircraft conduct surveillance from above and “quick response” teams are dispatched when folks are seen in the area. “To put a wall clear across that border and pay for– where’s the money going to come from?” Boswell asked. “We’ve got a $9.6 trillion debt right now that were paying interest on.”

Lamberti, the Republican, pledged to bring change to Washington if he’s elected. Boswell, the Democrat who is seeking a sixth term in congress, said there’s change needed in Washington, but it’s the kind of change Democrats would bring if they win control of congress.

Iowa Public Television will broadcast the nearly half-hour-long give-and-take between Lamberti and Boswell tonight at 7:30 p.m. It may be the final, face-to-face meeting of the candidates because the Boswell campaign has not accepted other debate invitations and this past week sent mixed signals about a debate sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Des Moines televisions station KCCI. One campaign spokesman said Boswell would not participate and then another said a final decision had not yet been made.