MENASHA, Wis. (WBAY) – Immigration has been a big issue in this year’s presidential race, and in the Fox Valley Monday night community leaders gathered for a discussion about what they call sensible reforms.
On a stage set up at Christ the Rock Church in Menasha, a number of people who deal directly with immigrants resettling in the Fox Valley spoke out, addressing concerns while taking questions.
“I understand there’s a need for immigration reform, and we need to do proper vetting and make sure we’re doing the proper vetting, but reform that helps not make it so difficult for people to come to this country,” said Pastor Bill Lenz of Christ the Rock Community Church.
The issue has been a political one as both presidential candidates have differing views on how future immigration should be handled.
In the Fox Valley, most immigrants are here for jobs or to attend school, while others are refugees.
World Relief Fox Valley Director Tami McLaughlin said, “There’s a lot of different ways people are entering and legally, most I think in legal fashions versus illegal, which is where a lot of negativity comes from.”
Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna added, “For me, you have to remember how this country was built, the reason why people come here. You know, it’s for opportunity and freedom.”
The Hmong population is one of the largest immigrant groups to resettle in the Fox Valley.
Lenz says the goal of this forum is to encourage people to embrace that diversity.
“At the end of the day it’s about human need and about treating people the way we would like to be treated if we were in the same shoes,” said Lenz.