Immigration has turned into the number one issue for many presidential candidates. While some people like to just bring it to light and leave at that, there are those who try to engage in a healthy dialogue that, hopefully, can encourage a consensus on how to address this issue.
Last Saturday #UniteIowa a Forum on Immigration took place in Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA. About 400 people attended the event and according to Kyle Munson, Iowa columnist for Des Moines Register and moderator of the forum, the event in Storm Lake was valuable. In spite of all the recent bad comments and views on immigration #UniteIowa on Immigration was an event where people were civil to each other.
A 90 minute discussion and Q&A session with two candidates Democrats Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee was as peaceful as it can get.
“This is a unique forum designed to be a civil productive discussion on not only one of the most crucial issues of this presidential campaign but a foundational issue for this nation built by immigrants” Munson said to start the forum.
Sandra Sanzhez from Des Moines, a naturalized citizen form Mexico and director of the Iowa Immigrants Voice program, Tamara Scott, a Republican National Committeewoman for Iowa, Monica Reyes a student at the University of Northern Iowa and a Dreamer herself, Joe Crookham CEO of Musco Lighting, Kim Hunter Immigration Lawyer and advocate and Rev. Chuck Valenti-Hein, a senior pastor a Lakeside Presbyterian Church in Storm Lake offered their points of view on the issue. There were exchanges, but they did not turn into anything ugly.
The panelists made great points regarding the current handling of this issue “We need to find a way to weed out the threat of fear in the conversation.” Said Pastor Valenti-Hein
“My problem with the immigration system is that it simply doesn’t exist” Joe Crookham the CEO of Musco Lighting a global firm in Oskaloosa, IA said “It’s both an economic and humanitarian issue” he added.
On the issue of Birthright Citizenship Tamara Scott, a Republican National Committeewoman for Iowa said the 14th Amendment was there to help the country economically and not to be abused by foreigners. To that comment Monica Reyes responded “I would definitely not call it abusing the system. I have siblings that are US citizens and they were born to an undocumented mother. Did you know they have to be 21 (years of age) before they can apply for my mother to become a citizen?” she said turning to Ms. Scott “That’s a long time to wait. I think people are having kids because of wanting to build a family not because they want to abuse the American system” she added.
All in all #UniteIowa on Immigration was a successful event that brought together people with different views and gave them an opportunity to express their view in a friendly and civil way.
Photos by Tar Macias