Citizens from Waite Park and St. Cloud gathered at St. Joseph’s church, awaiting the arrival of their Minnesota representatives in order to push for new legislation for undocumented immigrants living in the central Minnesota area, as well as for the rest of the state on Friday.
Currently in Minnesota, undocumented immigrants are not allowed to obtain drivers licenses, making life more difficult for undocumented immigrants to do many of the everyday things that many citizens take for granted.
Many within the Latino/Latina community have spoken against this ban on undocumented immigrants, including Maria Elena Guitierrez, the current president of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, an organization that helps to stand up for the Latino/Latina community in Central Minnesota.
Guitierrez insists that the reason for fighting this issue is not to help immigration necessarily on a nation scale, however to help those undocumented immigrants that are part of the community now, so they can have an opportunity to be successful in the community.
Cold Spring Police Chief Chris Boucher was in attendance, expressing his views on the subject matter.
“There’s a large aspect of seeing people driving without drivers licenses, that it would be nice to see, given the test, some forms of ID, which ever that would be to obtain a drivers license to operate in the state of Minnesota,” said Boucher.
“When you see people driving without a drivers license, you do not just see a person driving without a license, its very difficult, almost impossible to get insurance on that vehicle you are driving.”
With insurance becoming a legitimate concern within the issue, others within the region of central Minnesota see bigger issues with the legislation in place.
“Projections show that by 2050 the global population will surpass 9.5 billion people, currently the average american spends 6.4% of their annual consumer expenditures on food, that’s less than anywhere else in the world, you have the American diary farmer to thank for that, we are the most efficient in the world” said Brent Czech, a local dairy farmer from Benton County.
“Thats why the world is looking for us for solutions on how we are going to feed the addition 3 billion people over the next 35 years. I know that farmers in the United States will rise to the challenge, yes technology will play a big role but one tool that we need is a young vibrant workforce.”
“Businesses of all types are struggling to find employees, in particular out on the dairy farms,” said Czech.
“The economic impact of the states dairy industry is 11.6 billion dollars annually, I think that deserves our attention, and that young vibrant workforce that we need, Mexico has it.”
Representatives from St. Paul, as well as local representatives of the Central Minnesota region were also in attendance, including Paul Anderson, a representative for district 12B and also on the chair of agriculture in the Minnesota House.
“I have not supported this in the past, have been in the legislature for seven years and I think as I recall it has been the last three years or so that some folks that were down in the capital usually towards the end of session, and I really admire what they’ve done peacefully outside the chambers doors, but its always been late in the session it seems when action is really very busy,” said Anderson.
Jeff Howe, another Minnesota Representative says that he has been supporting this issue and has been trying to get something done in order to help the Latino/Latina community, however the last bill that he saw on the issue, he did not support.
“I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, I would love to see is happen realistically I don’t think its going to happen,” said Howe to a room full of supporters.
After discussion took place among supporters and representatives, President Guitierrez and Co-Founder of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, Pablo Tapia, made a firm commitment with Howe and Anderson to make yet another push for new legislation.
The next session will be held March 8th in St. Paul, the session will last for 10 weeks.