Commentary: Gimse seeks to clarify his position on immigrants
Since the publication of the article "Gimse says give worker ID cards to state's illegal immigrants" in the West Central Tribune and other Forum Communications newspapers across the state, there has been considerable speculation and faulty conclu...
Since the publication of the article "Gimse says give worker ID cards to state's illegal immigrants" in the West Central Tribune and other Forum Communications newspapers across the state, there has been considerable speculation and faulty conclusions drawn.
This demands that I explain myself to constituents.
To clarify: I am not supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants, but rather tighter restrictions for identification that will guard against identity theft. My goal is to look for real solutions to the ever-growing problem of illegal immigrants and their effect on the Minnesota economy, jobs and crime.
Unfortunately, I feel my good ideas and plan have fallen by the wayside due to the direction of the West Central Tribune article. This in turn has created a firestorm of responses from individuals.
One Twin Cities media outlet that picked up on the story even told readers that I want to give voter ID cards to illegals. Nothing is further from the truth.
I have been concerned about illegal immigration since before I took office as the state senator for District 13. In September, several Senate colleagues and I took the initiative to visit human services officials, law enforcement and employers in the Willmar area. We weren't surprised to find out the level of concern about issues surrounding illegals, especially in the area of identity theft.
The real focus of my legislative proposal is to stop identity theft -- what we see as the crux of the problem -- by working closely with employers, and by developing better methods to verify birth certificates, Social Security numbers and driver's licenses.
The idea of giving worker identification cards to illegal immigrants is one proposal that is being put forward in our effort to explore every possible way to resolve this problem.
My approach to this issue is not simple. We will first lay a legislative foundation for fully exploring this complex and difficult issue by bringing in experts in identity security, talking with state agencies that grant documentation to individuals, and hearing the opinions of Minnesota employers and residents.
I have opened some doors at the Capitol to finally provide a forum for this discussion. I am proud of this accomplishment and look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Minnesotans' opinions have and will continue to be heard on this issue.
I encourage everyone to continue to be involved over the next several months as the Legislature develops a more comprehensive strategy to deal with these problems.
I appreciate the West Central Tribune allowing me to comment on the article and clarify my position on this issue.
Joe Gimse is the District 13 State Senator. He is from Willmar.