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Church vows to support Trump on immigration

Church vows to support Trump on immigration Church vows to support Trump on immigration

Congressional candidate stops in Abbotsford

At a city hall surrounded by immigrant- owned businesses — in the middle of a community transformed by immigration over the past two decades — Republican Jason Church delivered a message of zero tolerance for illegal immigration last Thursday.

The candidate for Wisconsin’s Seventh Congressional District called for an overhaul of an immigration system that he says rewards illegal entry into the United States while discouraging those who want to come here legally.

“As a congressman, I can help rewrite the law and remove loopholes and incentives for coming across illegally,” he told the crowd of about a dozen supporters and others at city hall.

Church, a military veteran from Menomonie, said he supports President Trump’s efforts to build a wall along the Mexican border and increase border security.

“President Trump is doing the right thing,” he said. “He’s doing everything he can do, and I will stand by him and his efforts to stymie this.”

Church said his fiancée, Bella, is from Brazil and it’s been a year-long process for her to come into the country “the right way.” He said her goal is to be a doctor in rural Wisconsin, but that has not been easy to achieve.

“It’s also showed me how ridiculously bureaucratic that is,” he said. “We’re stymieing the legal immigration and incentivizing the illegal immigration. That is the definition of a broken system.”

When asked what he would say to business owners who are in desperate need of more workers, Church said there needs to be better dialog between states and the federal government about immigration.

“There is a need for workers; there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “We just don’t want it to be illegal.”

Church said he supports ending the “lottery” program that prioritizes immigrants from diverse countries and wants to institute a “merit-based” system that favors higher-skilled immigrants.

“There’s also a way of streamlining the organizations so you’re not running through five or six different bureaucratic departments to get this done,” he said, referring to the legal immigration process.

However, Church said the “bureaucratic knifes come out” whenever proposals like this are put forward.

“But that’s fine. I’ve been in some tougher battles than bureaucrats,” he said. “I don’t mind.”

Local police chief Jason Bauer asked Church what he proposes to do about illegal immigrants who have been here for many years and have kids in the local school system.

Church said he has a problem with the country allowing its laws to be “exploited like that,” and he wants Immigration and Customs Enforcement to handle those situations.

“That’s what ICE is for, and that’s what they’re there to handle,” he said.

Another local resident, Jenny Jakel, pointed out that many immigrants who have been here for 20 or 25 years now own businesses in Abbotsford’s downtown and are “model citizens.”

“Is there some way we can incentivize them to come forward to gain citizenship without the fear that 25 years is going to be wasted and they’re going to be sent back?” she asked.

Church remained firm on his stance of enforcing the laws on the books.

“Right now, the way the immigration statutes are written, they have been in violation of the law for 25 years and are subject to deportation,” he said.

At the same time, however, he said the “deport them all” approach may be impractical.

“The actual execution of such a law would be incredibly difficult, OK? I want there to be common-sense solutions to this,” he said. “I think there needs to be a way of people being able to come forward and then go through the legal process where they came from.”

Currently, he said the court system is “flooded with deportation proceedings” because the laws passed by Congress allow “coyotes” (human smugglers) and “predators” to exploit the exodus of people from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

One audience member said he has a problem with “freeloaders walking across the border and bypassing immigration laws.” He said he remembers working alongside some “very productive” immigrants when he was a kid, but he believes that many of the ones coming over these days “don’t want to do a damn thing.”

“They’re living off the taxpayers and haven’t put a damn cent into the system,” he said. “They come here and get their medical, dental, housing, cars, whatever else and a monthly check.”

Editor’s note: Jason Church will face State Sen. Tom Tiffany in the Feb. 18 Republican primary for the Seventh Congressional District. Democrats Tricia Zunker and Dale Lawrence will also be on the ballot, seeking their party’s nomination for the May 12 special election to replace former Rep. Sean Duffy.

For more information on the candidates’ views on the issues, go to page 10 and read articles about debates held in December and January.