After telling a Sarasota crowd Saturday that he wants to start the new year and a new Congress by listening to voters’ concerns, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan heard plenty of suggestions from across the partisan spectrum, including a desire to crack down on illegal immigration, impose new gun regulations and improve health care.

About 50 people attended a town hall hosted by Buchanan inside the Sarasota County commission chambers, with some of them taking aim at his record in Congress.

Immigration has been at the forefront of the national debate after a 35-day partial government shutdown that was brought on by a disagreement between President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress over funding for a border wall. The issue came up repeatedly Saturday, with multiple calls from audience members to crack down on illegal immigration.

“I am sick and tired of those who come to this country and do not want to assimilate,” said Marijke Knipscheer, a green card holder from the Netherlands.

Knipscheer received applause after she finished speaking. So did Sarasota resident Maryellin Kirkwood, who told Buchanan “we don’t need uneducated, unskilled foreign labor in this country.”

“I believe Congress has done a tremendous disservice to the majority of Americans by having open, unsecured, porous borders,” Kirkwood added.

Buchanan said he wants stronger immigration enforcement, but added that the reality of divided government means it has to be a bipartisan approach. The congressman has not supported spending bills but forward by Democrats that did not include money for the wall.

There will be another government shutdown on Feb. 15 if Trump and congressional leaders cannot reach an agreement.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working on border security legislation that is not expected to include wall funding, but could include money for other types of barriers, such as fencing. Buchanan said after the meeting that he expects Trump to sign the bill.

“I think if it’s something that makes a little bit of sense he’s going to take it,” Buchanan said. “We need to get on to other things.”

School safety and gun issues have been back in the spotlight recently as the anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland approaches next week. Activists with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence attended the town hall to try and press Buchanan to support new gun control measures.

A priority for gun control activists is HR 8, which would expand background checks on gun purchases. Buchanan voiced support for universal background checks during his campaign last year.

On Saturday, the congressman responded to those pushing for him to back the resolution by saying he plans to “take a look at it.”

After the meeting Buchanan said he wants to make sure he fully understands what the legislation does before committing to support it, but said he is inclined to back such a bill.

Buchanan also received some criticism Saturday.

Sarasota resident Barry Shere said Trump is the greatest president of his lifetime and he does not believe Buchanan is doing enough to support the president. Shere called former House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP leaders in Congress “feckless.”

“There have been very few standing with our president,” Shere said, before telling Buchanan that “I don’t see you in the battle, the real battle I think for America. We can’t have bipartisanship on the Democratic agenda.”

Buchanan has distanced himself from Trump on some issues — particularly when it comes to climate change and other environmental concerns — but has largely supported the president’s agenda.

Later in the meeting Sarasota resident Carol Roshto-Smith interrupted Buchanan when was talking about how to pay for government services without putting the country deeper in debt.

“No more tax cuts for you! That’s how we’re going to pay for it! No more tax cuts for you!” Roshto-Smith said.

Roshto-Smith pointed to the big tax cut bill that Buchanan supported in 2017 as a driver of the debt. She also raised concerns about the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, saying she personally has faced high medical bills.

Buchanan has supported efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saying it has not been successful at driving down health care costs. After the meeting he expressed concern that many people are still struggling to afford health care.

“It’s not adequate,” he said of the current health care system. “It’s not working.”

Buchanan — who brought a chart to the meeting showing the growing national debt — continued to dismiss concerns about the tax cut bill driving up debt. He argued tax revenues will grow along with the economy, but the government is not projecting that growth will come close to making up for the lost revenue.

“I think it’s going to take a year or two to play out,” Buchanan said.

The media was notified of the town hall Friday and a notice ran in the Herald-Tribune Saturday, but some people complained that Buchanan did not do enough to promote the event.

A town hall that Buchanan held in March of 2017 drew so much interest that Buchanan moved the event to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, a venue that seats 1,741. The Van Wezel was packed to capacity and many people were turned away. The crowd was highly adversarial, peppering Buchanan with pointed questions.

Buchanan said before Saturday’s town hall — which drew a crowd that appeared to lean more Republican — that he enjoys smaller, more intimate events.

“I actually like it when it’s a little more of a smaller group,” he said. “We can have more of a conversation.”