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Tuesday Talk: How immigration reform benefits MN

July 09, 2013 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Now that the U.S. Senate has passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, focus on the debate moves to the U.S. House. The measure would put
millions of undocumented residents living in the U.S., including many in Minnesota, on a possible 13-year citizenship pathway. The nearly 1,200-page bill also increases border security along setting out hundreds of other legal provisions for non-U.S. citizens to live and work in the country.

Minnesota is a stronger state when all of its residents have the right to access financial and educational opportunities, as Minnesota 2020’s last two buy local reports highlight.

Today, between 8:30 and 10 am, we’re happy to have Alberto Monserrate, co-Founder of the Latino Communications Network, joining us to discuss the current immigration debate and its Minnesota impact.

What are your thoughts on immigration reform?

If you can’t join us at 8:30, please leave a question for Alberto. 

Thanks for participating! Commenting on this conversation is now closed.


  • Rachel says:

    July 9, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Good morning! Alberto will be joining us soon. What questions do you have about the immigration bill?

  • Alberto Monserrate says:

    July 9, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I’m Alberto Monserrate CEO of Latino Communications Network and Chair of the Minneapolis School Board. I’m also a member of the Minnesota committee for citizenship, a broad coalition of MN organizations campaigning for comprehensive immigration reform that includes labor, business, faith communities and community organizations. This is part of a borad national coalition for immigration reform.

    MN is home depending on who’s counting, and this is hard to count, of between 60 and 100 undocumented immigrants. It is also a state that will depend greatly on immigrants for economic growth. As tens of thousands of college educated baby boomers retire in the next decades, Minnesota will not have enough native born people graduating from college and will depend a lot on immigrants to fulfill much needed jobs that will generate economic growth.

    Comprehensive immigration reform will allow a path to citizenship for tens of thousands of undocumented Minnesotans, make it a bit easier for immigrants to apply legally for work visas in Minnesota, will help re-unite families and increase wages for the average Minnesotan.

    Comprehensive immigration reform feces an uphill battle but realistic path in the US House with an important step tomorrow when the Republican conference in the House will meet to decide future strategy for immigration reform. MN is considered to have three swing votes with congressmen Peterson, Kline and Paulson.

    We welcome comments and questions today on this very timely topic.

    • Joe says:

      July 9, 2013 at 8:47 am

      Alberto, what parts of the legislation passed in the Senate will be helpful to Minnesota?

    • Dan Conner says:

      July 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

      Besides dealing with the undocumented immigrants here now, will the immigration deal with future immigrants?  How about the work visa and citizenship for future immigrants?  Why did the Senate bill waste so many $ billions on border security?  It seems this was only another corrupt buy for businesses in the security business.  I think it is common knowledge border defenses are easily defeated./

      • Alberto Monserrate says:

        July 9, 2013 at 9:08 am

        Dan, the Senate bill does make it a bit easier for immigrants that are not currently in the US to apply legally for work visas. This will include more h1b visas for college educated immigrants that will work in the field they studied in college, but will also include other work visas that don’t require as much formal education.

        I agree with you that the Senate bill is wasting Billions of $‘s in border security. We doubled over the past decade border patrol agents from about 10 thousand to about 20 thousand, and this bill re-doubles to about 40 thousand. This at a time were net migration to the US in our borders is zero and some estimate a net negative. This is terrible policy in the middle of federal secuestration. Senate leaders insits this was necessary for passage as they would’ve never received the necessary 60 votes to pass.

        My hope is that this gets corrected in the future. Financial and geographical realities will get in the way of the excessive border security measures being implemented.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    July 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

    This idea isn’t original with me (it’s from a MinnPost commenter in a discussion of this topic), but it would seem to solve a lot of problems without treating immigrants like the enemy.

    1) Give all the 11 million or so “illegals” who now live in America documents showing they are legal residents, with all the rights of citizenship except the right to vote.

    2) Give citizenship status to all their children, whether born here or not. 

    I would add:  Close all the Bush-era detention centers where would-be immigrants languish, separated from friends and family.

    • Alberto Monserrate says:

      July 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Bernice, thanks for your comments. I don’t think it would be a good idea to set up a new class of second class citizens without the right to vote. The Senate bill creates a path where undocumented immigrants pay a fine, back taxes, show proficiency in English and pay steep fees to first get a work visa, renew it after several years, and then get to apply for permanent residency after 10 years and full citizenship 3 years after that. They would get their status approved after all immigrants that originally applied legally are granted their status. I feel that after all those milestones that need to be met, that they should also get to vote.

      I also agree that hundreds of thousands of immigrants that sit in detentions centers for years, simply for crossing a border without papers, and facing terrible conditions and is a waste of money and inhuman. Resources would be better used for imprisoning violent criminals or those who threaten the security of the United States.

      Again thanks for your comment.

  • Alberto Monserrate says:

    July 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Joe, the Senate bill will create a path of citizenship for tens of Thousands of undocumented Minnesotans. This path would take about 13 years form the time they apply. This will allow immigrants to apply for higher wage jobs, which will increase average wages for everyone. The bill would also increase the number of work visas in Minnesota for people who will apply in the future,

    So called “dreamers”, or undocumented young people who were brought by their parents as children would have an expedited path to citizenship, making them available quicker for federal financial aid for college than they would otherwise, and helping Minnesotas future shortage for college educated workers.

    • Lee Egerstrom says:

      July 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

      There’s another aspect to having identifiable data that will come with immigration reform. That is he ability to gather accurate data to help researchers, community leaders and public policy makers. Having a sizeable population residing under the radar makes measurement of people and their role in the economy and social life of our state and communities extremely difficult. It seems simple, but it isn’t. We have to know what we’re dealing with to formulate responsible public policies. I’m afraid that might be a problem underlying Congress’ past and perhaps current problems dealing with immigration. And I believe it is a problem for state and community leaders in Minnesota as well, even when our instincts may lead us to being a welcoming society.

      • Alberto Monserrate says:

        July 9, 2013 at 9:24 am

        I agree Lee. having tens of thousands of Minnesotans leaving under the shadows, is bad for policy. An example was how tough it was to get undocumented immigrants in Minnesota to fill out census forms. The 2010 effort was the most successful to date, but it took a lot of resources to get there. This may have costs Minnesota millions in federal aid and almost cost Minnesota a congressional district.

  • Carl Westphal says:

    July 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Realistically, what are the chances this will pass the House? Is the term “immigration reform” just too toxic for too many Reps, no matter how bipartisan the support in the Senate?

    • Alberto Monserrate says:

      July 9, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Carl good question. The path to pass the House is steep, but realistic. It will and is taking a lot of work. Currently the Speaker of the House is publicly insisting in a majority of Republicans supporting a House immigration bill to get a vote on it, which is very hard to get. I believe he will change his mind. We also face a very conservative house judiciary committee.

      On the other side of the equation there is a broad coalition of republican and conservative groups that are supporting and aggressively lobbying for the bill. This includes evangelical leaders, the US Chamber of Commerce, the High Tech industry, the Ag industry, law enforcement leaders, small business leaders among others.

      Many talk about the Republican members of the House who are worried about primary challenges form the right, But if you go member by member there are tens of Republican members in California, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Florida that have very large percentages of Latino and Asian constituents, and are more concerned about the general election than a primary. The national coalition is stressing a Remember November campaign and running ads in Latino and Asian American media in those districts.

      The national campaign for citizenships is targeting over 130 republican and 7 Democratic members that are considered persuadable.

      We are now focusing on House members to pressure leadership on allowing a vote that will then get us to a Senate House conference committee.

      • Carl Westphal says:

        July 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        Why do we think that Boehner would ever sidestep the “Hastert Rule”—the informal rule that Republican speakers will not bring up bills that lack a majority of Republican support—for this one issue? Has he done so for any other bills?

  • Kyle says:

    July 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

    There are close to 2,000 entries on reform related to economic and immigration reform. Can you point out a few key items that will assist with the reform here in MN?

    Also, to take a step back. The reforms to immigration, visas, and everything that will go with it appears to come at a significant cost. The previous renditions border walls have failed at the costs of billions. It appears that this bill will help continue the trend of wasting money on tech companies for a false sense of security. Is it worth the tax dollars to get the bill pushed through?

    Finally, on the point of border security, I noticed this entry in the bill. Sec. 1116. “Oversight of power to enter private land and stop vehicles without a warrant at the Northern border.”  I didn’t realize that this was already in place, but is this something that we need or want in MN?

    • Alberto Monserrate says:

      July 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Kyle, good questions. There are bad things in this bill. The horrendous waste of money on the border security measures is one of them. They are very expensive, ignore how much more secure the border is now compared to years ago, and ignore the past failure with walls in the past, and geographic realities. The very steep path to citizenship is another. Possible threats to civil liberties another.

      But this bill also has vert positive measures that I believe out weigh the negative. The CBO has estimated by the way of this bill reducing the budget deficit by $175 Billion over the next decade. This bill takes tens of thousands of Minnesota away from living in the shadows. It allows thousands of young Minnesotas to go to college. It reunites thousands of Minnesota Families. It alows tens of thousands of Minnesotans to get better jobs, better education opportunities, allows thousands of Minnesotans to travel, buy homes, and start new businesses. Great of our economy.

      Muy hope is the bad parts of the bill can be fixed in the future.

      • Lee Egerstrom says:

        July 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

        It strikes me that any of the positives you mention above would justify passage of the bill. And, as always, that comes with the possibility or correcting any faults with the legislation in future years.

  • Alberto Monserrate says:

    July 9, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Thank you very much for your great questions and comments. In the next week and the next few months you will hear a lot about comprehensive immigration reform as the House moves to aprove a bill that then goes to conference committee and then to a yes no vote in both chambers.

    The house Republican conference will meet tomorrow to decide the future direction in the House for Immigration reform. An actual House vote may not happen until at Least October and maybe longer. I encourage everyone to have conversations with friends, neighbors and members of congress on the benefits of comprehensive immigrations reform.

    A strong majority of Americans support immigration reform and House leaders allowing a vote as quickly as possible, is key to future economic growth and better living standards for all Minnesotans,

    Feel free to add more comments and questions in the future an I will do my best to respond.

    Thanks for a thoughtful and interesting conversation.