How would you like to change Minnesota’s relationship with its immigrant communities?

Each Monday now through the election, we’ll pose a question on an issue that’s pertinent to the race for Minnesota governor. Today’s Question: How would you like to change Minnesota’s relationship with its immigrant communities?

Republican candidate Tom Emmer:

The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of the fact that millions of people around the world continue to believe in and
 seek out the promise of the American dream. We believe that immigrants who assimilate as Minnesotans and U.S. citizens and become contributing members of our community are a great asset to the
 state. It is important that we facilitate legal, orderly immigration so that we
 again enjoy the new talent, drive and entrepreneurial spirit immigrants bring to our wonderful country and state.

Democratic candidate Mark Dayton:

I will be a governor who sees our immigrant communities as contributors to our economic success and our social diversity, not as political excuses to generate fear. I will continue to urge the federal government to fix the laws that have created tensions among us.

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner:

Everyone agrees that all people in Minnesota must be here legally. But we need to make sure that Minnesota is a state that embraces the entrepreneurialism and skills of new Minnesotans. Let’s make new Minnesotans part of our communities through education, including English language classes.

  • Steve the Cynic

    We’d better decide to welcome them. When the Baby Boomers start to retire in droves, we’ll need immigrants to fill the labor shortage and pay Social Security taxes.

  • Neil Sorensen

    I would suggest the Twin Cities are more welcoming to immigrants than many places in the world. In some places, such as in Germany or France, there is little or no integration of so-called immigrant populations, even after several generations.

    Nonetheless, Out-state Minnesota has always been quite racist and unwelcoming to immigrants, especially around St. Cloud and in Stearns County, among others. These areas will face serious economic jeopardy if efforts are not taken to be more open to diverse populations.

  • scott

    Well, I wouldn’t waste my time making English the official language that’s for sure. This assertion changes nothing and is only there for political posturing.

  • Philip

    Although it’s a fools errand to make English the official language of the US, we need to push speaking English on immigrants as soon as possible. It’s for everyone’s own good. My ancestors understood the need to assimilate into American society very well and this included speaking English. My ancestors didn’t come from England, but they knew the benefits of speaking the language, especially in school and work. We need to be patient with new immigrants, but we must not let up in pushing them to learn the language. They’ll be better off financially, educationally, and socially in the end.

  • jeff longgenecker

    I would look to the past and the immigrant communities to see how MN has benefitted from their talents and contributions. I would embrace them by acknowledging the reality that any language spoken by a Minnesotan is a language of Minnesota.

  • Al

    As others have pointed out, I would quit using Emglish only laws to drum up fear and hostility. I would like to see more English classes offered.

    Not exactly a government issue, but I would like to see more inclusion and outreach by the churches in this state. While some churches do a fine job, there are others who seem to ignore the fact that immigrants of their faith (even the same Christian denomination) exist in ther community.

  • Al

    We also need English spelling classes, and maybe include those immigrating from Wisconsin like me. I meant ‘English’ in my last post.

    : )

  • Khatti

    I want us all to spontaneously join hands and sing Schiller’s/Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in the Swahili translation (singing it in the original German would be, you know, racist). I want us to do this forever—maybe even longer than forever!

    Look, dealing with immigrant communities is slow, and it probably never reaches a state of completion. I know the city of St. James fairly well. It has had a Hispanic presence for close to fifty years now. If you walk around the Watonwan county fair (as I did this summer) you’re going to see Hispano and Anglo kids dating each other—but there are still tender spots between the Anglo and Hispano communities. Part of the resentment the Anglo community is worry over crime (some of those Latinos who appear to be criminals in fact are). Part of the resentment is worry over Latinos taking jobs (though the Anglo community doesn’t show much enthusiasm for the jobs Latinos inevitably take). Part of the resentment is over the loss of a sense of the community they grew up in—it just doesn’t feel like home anymore. Part of the resentment the Anglo community feels is the inevitable reaction to the equally inevitable Paternalism that goes with situations like race relations: the Anglo community feels like it’s been locked in Sunday School by a manic teacher who will not let them leave until they recite the proper doctrine with the proper amount of enthusiasm—and that time never comes.

    I don’t know how I would like to change Minnesota’s relationship with its immigrant communities. What I know is what I think needs to be done to get along. If you are an immigrant, either move to rural Minnesota en masse with fellow countrymen, or move into an already established community. You need to be around someone who already likes the food and understands the jokes. Don’t be a lone wolf, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Learn as much English as you can as quickly as you can—the Anglo community feels entitled to this behavior on your part. It might be rude and arbitrary—but it isn’t going to change. And I think that we have to accept a certain amount of separation between communities. Unless you are willing to enforce some sort of accommodation (and I would be curious to know how you would set the fines and jail-time for: “Not being properly inclusive or diverse”) separation is inevitable.

  • Kyle

    I’d like to see better interactions between city councils and immigrant populations. A strong and open dialogue between immigrants and the home to which they’ve immigrated is essential to building strong communities that can flourish in any economic and political environment.

    Without such interaction we are more likely to see marginalization and conflicting goals, driving a wedge between Minnesota and the American dream– once immigrated, civic engagement is the best way to promote mutual investment between citizens and community.

  • Stephanie

    Mark Dayton’s comment above just sealed the deal for my vote! Immigrants are indeed important contributors to our economy & social fabric, not “political excuses to generate fear,” as he stated. I agree that immigration reform needs to happen at the federal level; making english-only laws and immigration laws at the state level (like AZ’s law) only stirs up unnecessary fear and judgement towards people of color, which in turn creates disunity in our local communities.

  • mls

    Politicians to the far right are using immigration as another divisive point as they promote fear and hatred to garner votes. My ancestors were immigrants and I bet those fear-mongers’s ancestors were, too.

  • Jonathan

    “We believe that immigrants who assimilate as Minnesotans and U.S. citizens and become contributing members of our community are a great asset to the
 state.”

    All the rest of you? Those of you who won’t “assimilate”? You people who want to keep your own language? Your own religion? Your own ethnic identity? Your own customs? Well, we’re going to hound you to death, split up your families, deny your children an education and scapegoat you for every bad thing that ever happens.

    Does Emmer and his type realize how offensive he is? Did the Scandinavians have to “assimilate”? No, they kept their language, their religion, their customs for generations. The Germans, the Irish, the Italians? Same thing. They helped shape America as much as America shaped them. Why should we expect anything less of the new immigrants?

  • Jack goldman

    I love good immigrants that are givers, working, adapting, making us better. I hate and despise losers, takers, evil gang banging immigrants who are here to rip off America, taking and sending things back to the homeland.

    It’s not about immigration, skin color, gender, or any other issues. Givers are welcome. Takers are hated and should be hated. Any group that takes more than their numbers in the population justify should be hated.

    America is being ethnically cleansed by Christian white males to promote women and minorities. Now Hebrews are taking more than their numbers justify. It’s time for Hebrew Affirmative Action to avoid Hebrews being hated. Hebrews who take more than their numbers justify in college, in jobs, money, ownership, power, fame, provoke their own hate, same as Nazis or Christian White males.

    Groups should be monitored to measure if their group is taking more or giving more based on their numbers in the population. I love givers and people who improve the community, pull their own weight, and give. I hate and despise losers who are takers, here to harm, here to make local people worse off to make their own group better off.

    Groups need to be monitored to measure if Hebrews or Africans have a gap and the Hebrew African gap can be closed with quotas to exclude Hebrews and include Africans, as we have done to Christian White males. Let’s use rule of law instead of rule of racism, quotas, government bias, to make us all better off. Jack Goldman. St. Paul, MN

  • Steve the Cynic

    Jack, within a single posting you use lots of racially charged language, advocating that some groups be “hated,” and you also claim to reject racism. Something doesn’t compute for me about that (unless you meant that nonsense to be some kind of satire).

  • Kevin VC

    When ever two different groups get together there is a need to extend one’s hand to greet the new neighbors.

    Coming to the United States its kinda expected you will learn English, but once someone has past a certain age it becomes harder.

    Generally 2nd and 3rd generation of any newly moved in group there is more adoption of English. Mainly because its easier for kids to learn a language.

    Having friends who were Vietnamese and Laotian who came over in the 70’s the Kids spoke English very well. But the parents were kind, but knew very little.

    Also being a college kid well past the age learning a foreign language has been near impossible, and WELL beyond the 4 year degree required from the UofMn. So I can really sympathize.

    But learning a culture and norms is generally easier then a language. Monkey See Monkey Do.

    So this monkey is happy to blend in, but you can’t get a degree with that.

    Just as people come here not fitting in, american also stick out like a sore thumb when elsewhere.

    (Its actually a joke in other countries.) We should not be so hard on others we have yet to know yet.

    And yet we are.

    Until we understand and comprehend the other we will always likely act this way. Ignorance is not a option, its a bill yet to be paid.

  • David Strand

    I believe we need to restore immigrant voting rights in the U.S. Whatever happened to “No taxation without representation.” ?

    For most of U.S. history, noncitizens who were residents were able to vote in all elections. While still true on the local level in various communities around the country, MN is one of a handful of states which bans noncitizens from voting even in local elections.

    There is no federal law against noncitizens voting in fact the inverse was true for the first 150 yeas of U.S. History. In fact when MN became a state there was a Senator from the South who argued that Minnesota should be the first state unable to allow immigrants to vote because “there might be in that country Norwegians, who not speaking a word of English and dumb as cattle, will vote however they are told.”

    MN banned nonciztins voting earlier than many other states for an ignoble reason. When iron ore was discovered on the iron range and the population of the northeast corner of the state started growing rapidly with many eastern european immigrants, the earlier Norwegian and German immigrants now largely into their second generation and thus largely citizens and domestic immigrants from the east coast who formed the bedrock of the twin cities industrial class, made a political alliance banning noncitizen voting rights to hold onto political power for another generation in the state.

    Most state’s didn’t ban noncitizen voting in federal and state elections until the late 1910’s when fear of newly organized labor which was largely immigrant labor including many newly enfranchised women voters(remember one of the calls of the women suffragists many of whom were immigrant women working in factories under dire working conditions was that “a vote is a fire escape!” after many women died in several high profile indutrial fires) was quickly disempowered by making it so most of their members were unable to vote.

    The last state to repeal voting by noncitizens in federal and state elections was Arkansas.

    Rather ironically, noncitizens who reside, work and/or pay taxes in most of Europe, Canada, much of Latin America, Japan, Australia,…. basically developed democratic nations…are able to vote. This is largely due to sentiments whose roots lie in the american revotution and the idea that there should be “no taxation without representation”.

    If you reside somewhere you likely pay property taxes whether directly or indirectly and also pay sales taxes and other taxes and fees as part of your day to day activities. If you work you pay income taxes.

    I think at the very least MN should allow noncitizens should be allowed to vote in local elections, the level closest to the population and the one which most directly impacts day to day life.

    How must it feel to live where you have no political voice in the schools, the operation of the police force which is to be there to protect you?

    Also, I think some higher skilled immigrants interested in being civic participants where they live will choose to come here if MN leads the way on restoring noncitizen voting rights.

    It will also help prevent creation of large pockets of disenfranchised individuals in given neighborhoods or townships of counties. Neighborhoods or areas of a county with fewer voters as a percentage of the population often recieve fewer resources from the city or county than the resident population deserves or needs in part due to inequitable access to the ballot box.

    If the majority of your neighbors are noncitizens, then you as a citizen are also disempowered politically due to an inability to make solidarity with your neighbors to prevent negative developments in your neighborhood or address government neglect of your neighborhood via the political process. Such pockets of disenfranchisement thus work to the detriment of the communities in which we all live.

    So, I want us to restore voting rights to immigrants/noncitizens strengthening our bedrock value of democracy! AND via democracy improving the lives of many our states residents and our public policy via greater input from all residents of the state.

  • Mark Johnson

    Immigration Policy… What a racket! “If you don’t pay us this money we are going to run you out of town!” There is NOTHING wrong with a human being going somewhere and getting a job, making a home, and living their life. We “Americans” get upset because we are getting robbed by our government and think everyone else should too since we’re not “Man” enough to defend ourselves from government sponsored theft.

    Now when a person votes for government sponsored theft, that’s when I have a problem. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO OTHER PEOPLE’S PROPERTY, and that includes any money they make from providing a service or selling a good. Still, all of us participate in theft every day. How? By supporting the actions of the government which does the stealing routinely. Peter is robbed to ‘benefit” Paul, with the acceptance, if not the active support, of the taxpayers. We participate in the legal plunder and we willing take the part of the loot offered to us while meekly accepting the theft of our own property.

    What always seems to happen is that when several good people, who would never individually steal, become a group, stealing seems justified. It’s ok to steal if the majority says it is ok, right? We can justify it as a good cause: poor people may need the help, or what ever crisis is facing us needs to be funded. Suddenly, the good people can’t see the immorality of the legal plunder: “if the majority decides it’s ok; it must be ok, then.”

    It seems that wherever the government is involved, “Thou shalt not steal,” becomes: “Thou shalt not steal, except for a worthy cause.” Nothing can make this immoral act into a moral one. Theft is theft, whether done by one person, by a group, or by officials with fancy titles and lofty sounding goals.

    It is easier, also, to transfer the responsibility to help others to the government. Then, we don’t need to be bothered with the pesky details.

    After a disaster, we need to reach into our own pockets to fund the aid. There is no way to be a Good Samaritan by taking forcibly from some people to give to others. It kills compassion from the people who would have acted on their own to help, but now need to do nothing. The receivers who “benefit” lose their self reliance. The victims of the theft start to wonder if it wouldn’t be better to join in the sharing of the loot; they were robbed, they should be able to rob as well.

    I have heard some even claim that sweet baby Jesus would have been in favor of this system of redistribution. They seem to forget that he never advocated any type of violence or theft ever, even for Very Good Reasons. (Just a side note, I am an atheist). He told us to help each other. He never once said to render unto Caesar so that he may redistribute it to the needy. We were to care for the widows and orphans ourselves. We need to; helping others is only virtuous when it is done by voluntary, mutual consent. Virtue only exists when there is free choice. This is not only the most practical and humanitarian way, it is also the most ethical.

  • Steve the Cynic

    So tell me, Mark, would it be fair if only the “virtuous” bear the burden of social responsibility? Why should the unvirtuous be allowed to shirk their duty to help provide for those who can’t provide for themselves and to contribute to the common good? When greedy folks hoard resources so that the needy don’t have enough, isn’t that also a form of theft?

  • David Strand

    Actually Mark, Jesus, to any extent he may be relevant to the question at hand, did support redistribution of wealth and encouraged the pooling of all wealth into a common pool to benefit the community of Christians. Or at least this how many early Christians and scripture claim he taught as practice.

    Jesus only comment on taxation by the Romans was “let what is Caesar’s be Caesar’s.” Clearly not a strong anti-tax message by any stretch as he did so after holding up a coin and noting that it had Caesar’s picture on it and thus originated from and clearly is associated with Caesar.

    If you take a dollar bill out of your pocket you will note that it states right on the dollar bill that it is of the United States. Damaging currency can be a crime because it is public property.

    Your arguments, Jesus or any other religious figure aside, sound to me like the excuses of a sociopath to avoid fulfilling social responsibilites.

    From World War II through till the early 60’s tje top federal marginial income tax rate was as high as 94% and consistently above 90%. It feel to 70% under Kennedy and then to 55% under Reagan and then feel further through through the Reagan years till Clinton took office. Note it was during the Reagan years we first had a huge federal deficit.

    The rate now is 35% for the top marginal tax rate and allowing Bush’s tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest 1% of americans would raise it to only 39.5%, hardly burdensome or high by either historical or international standards.

  • Gael Zembal

    While the fate of the people who immigrate to the US is far from certain or easy, I believe many times the children of the immigrants are getting the worse end of the deal. Depending on how old they are, they may not remember the country their family came from and this life is all they have known. They don’t understand why they can’t get the same treatment that other kids get. They only know Minnesota (or wherever they are) and they want to make this state and country great, but the country (and some of its citizens) won’t let them live up to their potential.

    Because the parents work such long hours, the kids don’t get enough time interacting with them. Parents come home from a frustrating, tiring, (and often demeaning) day of work only to find more stress as they worry about getting food on the table, making the rent payments, and possibly trying to learn English. With all this, of course the new immigrants are exhausted and they have very little time or energy to devote to their children’s academic and social development. The children do the best they can with their homework, but the effect of the lack of parental involvement in children as young as six is striking. Bilingual schools are hard pressed to make “adequate progress” because they can’t get as much support as they need from the parents (who in turn cannot get the support they need with their problems). So then, the children can’t contribute as much in class, they don’t grasp the lessons quite as quickly, and they have less confidence in their abilities because of it. Children that don’t even have confidence in themselves can hardly bring, “new talent, drive and entrepreneurial spirit” to Minnesota.

    The relationship with the immigrant communities of Minnesota must change, and it must become more empathetic. Our new governor must provide more resources to reduce the stressors on our immigrants so that they can actually contribute to society and help their children succeed instead of being scared to death and tired to boot every day. By allowing them some breathing room (equal workers rights, a bureaucratic system that is more transparent and easier to navigate etc) they will have more time and energy to devote to their children’s development; for without education, our children cannot prosper, and without our children, we cannot survive.

  • Jack Goldman

    I am not sure what the question means? Farmers have weeds as immigrants in their fields. There are immigrant birds the fly to Minnesota to feast on the new growth and raise their babies to move away. There are immigrant rain showers that flood our rivers and kill our people. What is immigration? I was born in Minnesota and I am told I am an immigrant, not a native American? How can this be? It’s irrational.

    I fled from Minneapolis as other immigrants took over my North Minneapolis neighborhood, now a “community” of flocking immigrants, like birds or weeds, moved here from out of state. I am told all people in America are immigrants.

    My father lived here for 75 years and resides in public housing. The building has been taken over by Russian Jews. They are here as weeds, birds, to pick the resources of America dry. These Russian Jews get more aid than my father because they are refugees and my father is only an Minnesotan who built this state and made it great.

    I am told Russian Jews move to Israel, as immigrants, and murder Palestinian Arabs. Israel is a failed state that subsists on welfare from America. Are the Russian Jews in Israel immigrants? Are the people the Russian Jews ethnically cleansed from their homes immigrants now that they have moved to Gaza?

    I am confused about what an immigrant is and how to answer this question. It seems to me all immigrants are fleeing a bad area in search of a new area to pillage. Good immigrants, with a brief case, can steal and pillage more than one hundred immigrants with guns so the immigrants do what gets them the most loot, a college education in Minnesota or lots of guns in Israel.

    This idea of immigrant and community versus local and neighborhood has been intentionally blurred by immigrants who moved here to loot Minnesota.

    Should I protest the looting of the public school and welfare programs paid for by locals or should I rejoice in the looting and destruction of my home town and my nation that I used to love before it was destroyed by excess debt to fund global wars to promote immigrants and my own ethnical cleansing in my own nation? Should I cheer the ethnic cleansing of my nation? Did Jews cheer their ethnic cleansing in Nazi Germany? Do Jews today cheer ethnic cleansing of Jews? Then why should I cheer the ethnic cleansing of my group, the Christian, White, Males?