Marshalltown Immigration Summit

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marshalltownA national summit on immigration intended for the community of Marshalltown, Iowa was held on Feb. 26 and was a big disappointment to some.The event included INS officials, local school district members, and Rep. Tom Lehman, R-Iowa.Gilbert Sierra, the Iowa state director of LULAC attended and said that about twenty people who showed up really needed the information. The rest were the media, staff and community leaders. About 160 people tops, he said showed up to the event.During a question and answer session, the public was asked to write questions on a sheet of paper and the moderator would pick the questions
that would be answered. At times, the panel was not able to answer the questions that they were presented.“One question came up,” Sierra said, “about getting an IRS number [ITIN number] and it was a very hard question. Nobody knew about it, so I raised my hand. I answered with the free IRS paper that they gave out at the Moline conference.”
The conference was more to justify the positions of those against immigration and to present that they are not racist according to Mr. Sierra.
“The mission of the conference was that they wanted to say something to not think that they were racist,” Sierra said.
About the only positive thing mentioned about the immigrants was that the mayor of Marshalltown, Gene Beach said, “We have the best Mexican food in Iowa.”
School board officials believed that the education system was not a top priority in Mexico. However on a positive note, the school officials said that without immigrants, they would not have as much money to pay for the schools.
“In my opinion, the event was not backed up by facts,” Gilbert Sierra of LULAC said.
The families most affected with the December raids of a food processing plant in Marshalltown did not attend the event. The minutemen were present at the event but were escorted out after the first session.
As a Latino leader in the community, Sierra was disappointed that he was not allowed to speak in the conference.
“I just hope that I get a call in Marshalltown to go back. I’m going to tell them the truth. They left many misrepresentations,” he said.

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