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Letter: Mayor says he's worked hard on immigration issues

By Alan Oberloh, Mayor, City of Worthington

I seldom address your editorials, but regarding the latest one published Tuesday titled “An unfortunate lack of representation,” I thought I should clear some things up. I was at a League of Minnesota Cities conference and then attended a large collector car event in the Twin Cities over the weekend, a trip that was planned several months earlier.

City Administrator Craig Clark and I both met with Lisa Kremer prior to the event to discuss the mission and the premiere of the immigration documentary. I shared several concerns with Ms. Kremer, some addressing our broken immigration system and others addressing efforts to allow any child, whatever status they have, to be able to visit their grandparents, not just families separated by situations they caused themselves when entering the country. I am certain there are lots of grandparents across the country that are not able to see their extended families because of financial constraints and physical issues, and I do not see efforts to fundraise or report these stories.

In the years since I have been mayor, I have attended more functions relating to immigration than I remember, including speaking at the University of Minnesota, to the Minneapolis Foundation luncheon at a roundtable discussion about the effects of immigration and diversity in Minnesota. I set up a Worthington meeting with then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, staffers from our congressman and senators, and our state delegation, as well as local leaders who were trying to help law enforcement, courts, schools, the health care industry and others deal with the challenges of the undocumented immigrants who reside in our communities. We addressed forged documents, driver’s licenses, multiple ID cards, extortion and unreported serious crimes against undocumented people. This was a meeting set up to show the problems that communities throughout America are dealing with on a daily basis.

As you can see, I have been very involved with the immigration issue — not just with Hispanics, but with all of the new residents who live here including African, Asian, Middle East etc. But I continue to tell people that is the job of the federal government to fix the immigration issue, not local city governments. Tough decisions need to be made soon at the federal level to either find a pathway to citizenship in a timely manner or close the borders or send people back to their home countries, but something must happen.

In closing, the event held this weekend served to bring a personal side to the problems resulting from a broken system but is not fixed by criticizing local leaders for not being in attendance. Embrace.