Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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September 17, 2012

Immigration topic of discussion at public meeting tonight

GOSHEN — The community is invited to an open discussion on immigration tonight.

The roundtable discussion will be at the Goshen High School media center at 7 p.m. and be hosted by the Goshen Community Relations Commission. The discussion will focus on illegal immigration and the impact on Goshen and surrounding communities, according to a statement from the CRC.

“Illegal immigration has emerged as a contentious local issue over the past five years, triggering intense debates about the impact of immigrants on crime, education, health care, social services and Goshen’s quality of life,” the release states.

The discussion will start with a presentation from Goshen College history professor Steven M. Nolt, who will give an update on current immigration issues on the state and national levels, according to the release.

“The comment from the speakers will be short compared to the last time the community met in a forum last summer,” Nolt said Friday. “The format is focused on roundtable discussions of small groups. I hope it’s a time to speak openly and honestly. I want people to be more aware of someone who they may disagree with, and to also find small ways for them to agree on. It makes for a stronger community.”

After Nolt, Bob Schrameyer and Saulo Padilla will speak. Schrameyer is the director and co-founder of Citizens for Immigration Law Enforcement, and Padilla is the director of the Office on Immigration Education for the Mennonite Central Committee, according to the release.

Padilla is excited to speak, he said by phone Friday.

“I’m looking forward to responding and adding a bit to what Nolt says,” Padilla said.

Padilla said he hopes the community will come to some concrete conclusions through these discussions — more so than they have in the past.

“Hopefully this conversation won’t be endless,” he said. “We want to come to a resolution of recommendations for the local government.”

Before the community attends, Padilla said he recommends that they read up on immigration law and current ongoing issues in national immigration politics, like deferred action, a program signed into action that will stop deportation of young immigrants for up to two years, giving them the opportunity to obtain legal status, as long as they meet certain requirements.

Education on these topics is key, Padilla said.

“People need to inform themselves about the current immigration issues,” he said. “There are many people who will speak at these events about immigration and they don’t know much about immigration laws.”

The event will be cosponsored by the Goshen City Council, Goshen Chamber of Commerce, IU Health Goshen Hospital, the Goshen Ministerial Association, The Goshen News, The Elkhart Truth, Goshen College and Goshen Community Schools.

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