Coleman, Dayton talk on Immigration, floods and ag disaster aid
Immigration, floods and ag disaster aid was on the minds of Minnesota's two U.S. senators during separate press conferences Thursday. Later that day, the U.S. Senate reached a compromise on delicate, multi-tiered package that won't get a final vo...
Immigration, floods and ag disaster aid was on the minds of Minnesota's two U.S. senators during separate press conferences Thursday.
Later that day, the U.S. Senate reached a compromise on delicate, multi-tiered package that won't get a final vote until after a two-week holiday recess.
But even with Senate approval, that version is strikingly different from the U.S. House of Representative's proposal, which addresses border security and would deport most, if not all, of the illegal aliens in this country.
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) said earlier in the day there was broad consensus amongst his colleagues to have secure borders.
But the disagreement, he said, was what to do with the estimated 11 million people who are illegally in this country. Coleman was backing a temporary worker program, which then gets those individuals "into the system."
"I don't support a path to citizenship. I think we should have a guest worker program in this country with a number of conditions. If you break those conditions then we have to have in place the enforcement of immigration laws and those folks have to go back," said Coleman.
U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) also backs legislation that secures the nation's borders while offering "some pragmatic resolution" for the 11 million illegal people in this country.
Dayton said these individuals can't be forcibly evicted, and should be given the opportunity to reside in this country legally within certain guidelines.
Dayton was supporting the McCain-Kennedy package, which would allow individuals to legally establish themselves in this country. It would penalize employers for hiring illegal workers.
"If they are willing to work and work over a period of time under established laws, minimum wage and the like, then over 10 or 11 years they have a chance to earn permanent residency," stressed Dayton.
"We should never have come to the situation we're in now where we have this total breakdown on the protection of our borders and legal process for people who want to be here, want to work here, want to become legal residents or citizens here."
The Senate agreement would allow undocumented workers who can prove they have been in the U.S. for five years or more to obtain a renewable work visa. They would have to pay a $2,000 penalty, any back taxes, and undergo a criminal background check. After five years, they could apply for citizenship so long as they are employed, have learned English and do not commit crimes.
Dayton and Coleman said they have been monitoring the Red River Valley flood situation and in communication with city and state officials.
Both senators are also cosponsors of a Senate bill that authorizes ag disaster funding for 2005 losses. Coleman said the bill does not contain any funds for the bovine tuberculosis problem in Northwest Minnesota.
Coleman said he has been talking with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials about that problem, with all options still in negotiation.
USDA revoked the state's TB-free status in January, and replaced it with modified accredited status. Minnesota cattlemen must now follow a number of procedures regarding the sale of their cattle to out-of-state interests.
The new status is in effect for at least two years. Coleman declined to say if USDA may reduce that time frame.
"We want to limit the impact. We want to limit the time of the impact. We want to send out all assurances that our meat supply is healthy and this should not have any long-term implications," said Coleman.
Coleman is also waiting to see how the Australian government deals with its investigation of the Australian Wheat Board before pursuing an investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which he chairs.