It’s a controversial subject that is hard for many people to discuss, but that’s exactly what a public forum in Rochester aims to do.
Dozens of people met Wednesday night to talk about immigration reform.
Joe Powers is a Rochester business owner who has many immigrants working for him.
“It’s really our future and me being in business, it’s weird, we’re always looking for people to fill different positions,” says Powers.
First, he has to make sure they have all their proper paperwork. He says it’s actually an easier process to hire workers from another country, than it is for them to become legal citizens.
“The first thing we need to make sure is that they have all their paperwork properly done because there are standards to that on what we have to follow and the process has been made fairly good in that area but we have a tremendous amount of them that wants become citizens and there’s not an avenue for them to do that,” he says.
But immigration is a divided issue. Those like Powers want to reform the system to make it easier for immigrants to come to the United States and work.
Others like Dave Gorak, with the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration, want to put harsher limits on it — stating, “20,000 Americans are without work.”
The Senior Vice President of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has a different view. Rather than taking jobs away from Americans, he believes reforming the immigration system would have the opposite effect.
“We believe that fixing our nations broken immigration system is critical not just to the growth but to the development and evolution of Minnesota’s economy,” he says.
The purpose of the forum is to educate Rochester students and citizens on the issue and to allow them to voice their opinions to those who can make a difference.
“We live in a democracy and our democracy really is responsive to our citizens and so when we are informed of the citizenry and talk to our elected officials it makes a big difference in what they do,” says Sheila Kiscaden with the Student Committee for Rochester Issues Forum.
Organizers say, no matter what your view, if it’s something you feel strongly about, take a cue from Joe Powers, and make your voice heard.