My husband and I attended U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer’s town hall meeting Wednesday evening in Sartell, Minn., on the condition that we would behave ourselves (“Emmer grilled on ACA, immigration,” Feb. 23). Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota’s Sixth District, warned protesters not to disrupt his town hall or he’d cancel the whole event (as stated by his chief of staff). The meeting hall held 75 seats. His other constituents were barred from entering. The Sartell police estimated the crowd outside to be around 1,000. Darkness descended on us, temperatures dropped, rain turned to sleet, as people carried their signs, sang their songs and chanted, “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!” Perhaps next time Emmer could reserve a venue that won’t shut out a huge number of us. We will be at the next meeting, and our numbers are growing.
I watched the video of the Q&A forum once we returned home. I’d encourage everyone to check it out online (http://bit.ly/2lPi8j7). There were thoughtful questions about immigration, the president’s travel ban, the Affordable Care Act, education, our environment and a number of other topics.
Sharon King, Big Lake
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Regarding those “raucous” town hall meetings (“GOP reps pressured to meet public,” Feb. 22), I as a woman do not apologize for my rage, for raising my voice above the timbre of an obedient little girl, for taking up space and air in a room, for interrupting when those in power themselves interrupt, shout down and shut down my opinion, order me to sit down, invoking “civil discourse” and “safety” to silence me.
Black lesbian feminist warrior poet Audre Lorde said: “I am and you cannot wipe me out, no matter how irritating I am, how much you fear what I represent.”
Women roar as we give birth to courage, compassion and tolerance, virtues sorely needed in our world now.
Olivia Frey, Northfield
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While speaking with Chad Hartman on WCCO Radio on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis of Minnesota’s Second District took some time to address his lack of scheduled public town halls.
During the discussion, Lewis justified his lack of town halls by citing an unnamed fellow Minnesota legislator on “the other side” who hasn’t held a town hall in six years. I have heard this argument on more than one occasion from members of both major parties, and it continues to baffle me.
Why should the frequency of another district’s town halls matter to Lewis’ constituents? We are not constituents of Betty McCollum, Erik Paulsen or any other nearby district. How those districts conduct business is entirely up to them.
I am not familiar with the efforts in those districts to meet with representatives, nor would constituents of other districts appreciate our pressuring their members of Congress. Just as Lewis and I would likely agree that someone living in Woodbury, for example, shouldn’t be influencing the politics of Minnesota’s Second District.
If Lewis is disappointed with the frequency of McCollum’s town halls, perhaps he should speak with someone from her district. I’m sure he knows someone living there.
But for now, he should focus on the concerns of his own constituents.
Andrew Welter, Eagan
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Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis were not in Congress when the nascent Tea Party followers began to protest Obamacare at town halls run by Democratic members of Congress in 2009-10. If either of them can point to an editorial letter or a public speech in which they denounced the Tea Party tactics, they have a right to be concerned about protests at their town hall meetings (assuming Lewis actually gets around to having one).
Otherwise, gentlemen, be brave. Face your constituents, answer their questions and remember — you were just fine with raucous protests when the shoe was on the other foot.
Theresa J Lippert, St. Paul
The consequences (or necessary adaptations) of a policy change
As the immigration debate again moves to the forefront and as federal government priorities regarding illegal immigration evolve, readers should be aware of some facts (yes, verifiable facts) that tend not to come up in the discussion.
Fact: A number of illegal immigrants work in the U.S. using real Social Security numbers that do not belong to them. And as a result …
Fact: Employers pay Social Security taxes based on the wages these immigrants earn — the illegal immigrants will never collect Social Security benefits based on those wages.
Fact: Employers withhold income taxes on wages paid to many illegal immigrants — the illegal immigrants will never collect any refunds that might have been due based on their wages.
Fact: Employers pay unemployment insurance taxes based on these wages — the illegal immigrants will never collect unemployment benefits based on that employment.
Some changes in policy have consequences that are not fully appreciated.
Tom Romens, St. Paul
The writer, retired, is a former director of Unemployment Insurance Integrity Assurance for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
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There are always secondary, unintended consequences for every action. If President Trump does deport 3 million to 11 million undocumented people, what will those consequences be? A worker shortage, yes, in areas the immigrants tended to work — with work either not done, in agriculture, or for higher wages, in the hospitality industry. Expect higher costs for food and hotel rooms. In construction, more vocational recruitment and training will be needed to fill those jobs. In the short term, expect longer time to build things.
All of these people lived somewhere. So expect a sharp increase in rental vacancies. Good for those struggling with housing costs; bad for landlords who will need to lower rents to fill those vacant units. Retail will lose those customers, too. In areas where the undocumented lived, expect store closings. That will mean lost property taxes and sales taxes. Yes, the undocumented do pay taxes.
Then there are the social intangibles; those citizens, on returning home, will take with them a strong dislike for our country. That will breed hostility against Americans and the products we export to those countries. We might as well return the Statue of Liberty. The rest of the world will no longer look to us as a destination for liberty and economic opportunity. Expect other countries to look to fill that void we ourselves will have created
My guess is that there will be more consequences we would have never expected.
Robert A. Swart, Mankato
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The argument that enforcing our immigration laws will hurt the economy is misleading. Let’s accept the dire warnings that our economy will be severely damaged if we enforce our immigration laws. The simple answer would be to increase the number of legal immigrants (currently around 1 million). Economists should be able say how many we need to keep the labor force sufficient. Our country can then focus on keeping out those who attempt to enter illegally. I think we must guard against conflating legal and illegal immigrants when discussing their impact on the economy.
Thomas Sullivan, Edina
What it means
Trump lifts the transgender bathroom guidelines (front page, Feb. 23). It’s a matter for each individual state.
Now some states can be mean. And some states not mean.
Pat Proft, Medina
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Diversity R us
Phew! Luckily there were enough white guys available to serve on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents (front page, Feb. 23). Good job, Legislature.
Susan Gilmer, St. Paul