Ron Branstner was back in Austin on Monday, selling the same arguments that he’s been pitching for more than a year now — namely, that illegal immigrants are stealing jobs from hard-working Americans, committing crimes, demanding assistance from social services — and that the Welcome Center is making it easier for them to do so these things in Austin.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
We’ve heard this shtick before from Branstner, the California Minutemen border-watcher who seems to show up every time the Minnesota Coalition for Immigration Reduction holds a public meeting in Austin.
If the coalition asked Branstner to stay away from its next public meeting, its status would grow considerably in our eyes.
As it is, we’re pleased to see that some people in attendance at Monday’s meeting dared to challenge Branstner’s unsubstantiated claims. Illegal immigration is a serious national problem that needs a national solution, but until the dialogue about it becomes a two-way street, little can be accomplished.
So perhaps it’s time for a pre-emptive meeting. Instead of waiting for the coalition’s next rally-disguised-as-forum, we encourage city leaders to organize the real thing, to allow people from both sides to air their views and lay their cards on the table. Invite State Sen. Dick Day to participate. Do the same for U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and GOP-endorsed congressional candidate Brian Davis. Bring in Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe. Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm already has spoken in his own defense at a coalition meeting, and we suspect he’d be more than happy to join in a more civilized forum.
The bottom line is that if we want a serious discussion of illegal immigration, it’s probably a good idea to sit down with some serious people who live in Austin or represent us in Congress or the Legislature.
Branstner doesn’t qualify.