LETTER: Facing the challenge head on

Published 6:58 am Thursday, October 22, 2009

I have received many calls about the recent demonstrations at the Veterans Memorial.

I am disgusted by the idea of the National Socialists using a monument to our local heroes as a place to attempt to advance their cause. They pick on issues like immigration, which is obviously a hot topic and of concern to most people in Austin. People may sympathize with their view on immigration, but google their Web site to see their entire platform. Most people will be appalled.

Many of the names on our Veterans Memorial are of our citizens who were killed by Nazis in WWII.

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I believe the City Council will be looking into an ordinance on public demonstration. We will not be able to ban them, but hopefully we will be able to regulate them so that our law enforcement agency will be prepared.

I would like to ask people of Austin to please stay away from any such future demonstrations. If you are coming from outside Austin to visit our city or the Spam Museum – fine. If you want to put on a bandana and throw fruit or vegetables at people, find a cause in your own community to protest. That is where you pay taxes so if you cause damage or cause your community to spend money on police services, it will come out of your own pockets. We will not tolerate this behavior in our community or the disrespect that was shown our law enforcement officers.

I know immigration is a concern for all of us. People wonder what is going to happen, and when. I have spoken to our U.S. senator, Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Tim Walz. Both say that next year will be the year the Senate and Congress will tackle immigration.

We in Austin have to look to our future. None of the immigration reform plans that have serious consideration will deport all immigrants. They will most likely regulate and assist people who are here now towards residency and eventually citizenship. In 10 years, Austin will still have a significant population of people in our community who are living here as immigrants now.

This is entirely controlled by the federal government as are the enforcement efforts today. We have to act accordingly.

Lately we have seen an inordinate amount of arrests by our police department on forgery and fraud cases. I applaud these arrests. If the arrestees are in this country illegally, they will be deported and denied residency or citizenship under any new federal legislation. Also, their fingerprints will be on file so they will not be able to obtain a new ID under assumed names.

There are many people who are angry and would have the City take an anti-immigrant posture. Our community has seen the results of a community divided. We are still healing from the strike of the mid 1980s. I as mayor will not head our community back in that direction. Anyone who would do so is more concerned with self interest than the community good.

Austin is a great community, and I am very proud to be able to be your mayor. Times are changing and so is our city. Change can be frightening, but we will face these challenges head on and be a better community for it.

Tom Stiehm

Austin mayor