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Political Notebook: Kline says border security first step in immigration reform

When it comes to immigration reform, efforts need to focus first on beefing up the nation's border security, according to 2nd District Rep. John Kline.

The Lakeville Republican said in an interview last week that during a House GOP caucus on the topic, there was overwhelming agreement that border security needs to be dealt with first.

"Everyone almost unanimously in the Republican caucus said there is no way we are going to address that issue of the people who are here unlawfully, even though a lot of us would like to be able to get to address that. There's no way we are going to do that until we have absolute credibility on the border (security issue)," he said.

Kline noted that President Reagan granted amnesty to individuals in the U.S. illegally, but promised security upgrades at the U.S.-Mexico border never happened. As a result, the number of undocumented individuals in the U.S. has climbed to more than 11 million.

Kline also is no fan of the Senate's proposal, which calls for adding 20,000 border security agents. In addition to that number being arbitrary, "nobody has confidence that will happen."


Kline also backs legislation to reform the E-verify system employers use to check if someone is in the country legally and changes to the guest worker program.

The Senate bill did provide a path to citizenship for individuals in the country illegally. Kline said if the border security issue was resolved, he would be willing to consider some legislation to change these individual's legal status. But he said what exactly that would look like is "an ongoing debate."

A recent poll determined that Kline's district is one of seven in the U.S. where Republicans could face voter backlash if immigration reform fails to move ahead. Public Policy Polling found that 44 percent of voters in the 2nd Congressional District said they would be less likely to support Kline if he votes against immigration reform, whereas 19 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for him. In addition, 77 percent of the voters in the district think it's important for the U.S. to fix its immigration system this year.

Fundraiser for Bakk in Rochester

DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk will be in Rochester next week for a fundraiser.

The Olmsted County DFL sent out an email inviting its members to attend the fundraiser on July 23 hosted by Titan Hospitality and three lobbyists — Ron Jerich, Valerie Jerich and Michael Jerich. The email notes this is "a direct response from citizens of Rochester thanking DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk for the great work he did for us this past legislative session!"

The event will be at the Rochester Doubletree Hotel and feature hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. The suggested donation is $100 per person.

Bakk was a vocal supporter of Mayo Clinic's $6 billion Destination Medical Center expansion project, which won legislative support this session.

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