Immigrants and Lawmakers Criticize “Illegal Immigration” Report

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A recent Minnesota government report on “The Impact of Illegal Immigration” in the state ignores the contributions that immigrants make to Minnesota’s economy and culture, citizens and legislators at times passionately complained at a meeting here last week.

The report “focused on enforcement and enforcement only,” said State Representative Rod Hamilton at a public meeting last Sunday in Worthington, attended by about 250 citizens and a panel including Rep. Hamilton, Worthington Mayor Mayor Alan Oberloh, police chief Mike Cumiskey, Mexican consul Nathan Wolf, Rep. Doug Magnus, and Mariano Espinoza , co-director of Freedom Network for Immigrants.

The 21-page report, written by the state’s “Office of Strategic Planning and Results Management,” examines what it calls the issue of “illegal immigration” in the state by chapters cover “Education Costs,” “Health Care Costs,” “Public Safety Costs,” “Housing Costs,” “Unpaid Taxes,” etc.

At the Worthington meeting, the report was widely criticized for its exclusive costs focus and for labeling undocumented immigrants as “illegal.”

“For those of you who call yourself illegal, according to U.S. law, you are not illegal, you are undocumented,” Wolf told the audience.

The panel stressed that the state’s immigrant policies need to strike a balance by not only a clearer assessment of costs, but also of the benefits of immigration in the state. More agricultural and service worker visas should be issued in a more streamlines process, the panel said.

The audience, including many immigrant agricultural and service workers, said the state’s present immigration process is cumbersome and leaves them in legal limbo for years. Unfair arrest and deportation leaves families separated for years, they said. Immigrants also often fear asking police for help for fear of being asked about their immigration status.

Copyright @ 2006 The Glocalist

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