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Politicians Woo Latino Voters with Promise of Immigration Reform [POLL]

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UNDATED – Immigration reform has become a big topic in Washington, D.C. WJON takes a look at the topic, from lawmaker’s motivation for the proposed changes, to how it could impact immigrants here in Central Minnesota.

Make no mistake, the biggest reason for any potential changes to our nation’s immigration laws, such as a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already in our country, is clearly politically motivated.

The Latino population is growing, which means securing their votes is crucial for any politician who wants to win an election.  A new report says California’s Hispanic population will equal that of whites within six months and exceed it early next year.

Claire Haeg is a Political Science Professor at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University.  She says the Republican party has lost a lot of support in the Latino community, since the days when George Bush was in the White House.  But, she points out that immigration reform is a tricky subject for both parties, “the Democrats also have some kickback that might happen from unions.  If they are too supportive of path to citizenship, and increased legal immigration”.

Meanwhile, even though Minnesota is far away from the border with Mexico, we have a lot of immigrants locally that will be closely watching what happens.

Stephen Philion is a Professor of Sociology at St. Cloud State University.  He’s leading a research group on immigrant workers in Minnesota.  He says Stearns County’s Latino population is over 5,000. While a majority of them are hear legally, he says a fair number of them are undocumented. Philion says most of them are working in our local factories, and other businesses.  Philion says, “their biggest struggle isn’t necessarily in finding a job, it’s in workplace rights, and that’s directly related to their lack of rights in the country, and also the ongoing threat of raids from ICE”.

Philion says he has been asked to help out on cases of workers who have lived illegally in the U.S. for 15 years.  Then they’re stopped on something like a traffic violation recently, putting them on ICE’s radar screen, and could lead to their potential deportation.

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