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Wadena native stumps for Poston, shares immigration views

Rep. John Poston (right) tells a story of a refugee while Arizona Rep. Anthony Kern looks on in a Republican gathering at Pizza Ranch last week. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

A group of Republicans had an impromptu gathering at Pizza Ranch Tuesday, July 24, in Wadena to hear from Wadena native Anthony Kern, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives who stumped for Rep. John Poston, who is seeking reelection in District 9A.

The gathering was brought together with the help of Kern's sister Vickie Thompson. Kern comes from a family of 13 kids.

Kern shared about his beliefs and values and shared that he 100 percent backs President Trump, something others within his race for reelection could not say, Kern said.

His beliefs got strong support from the room of about 20 locals as Kern shared how he was brought to Christ as a young man and continues to serve within his church. Kern has served in law enforcement as a marshall and has now lived in Arizona for more than 30 years.

Kern repeatedly spoke harshly of the media saying that they only want to report about conflict and would never report on the fact that prayer meetings and Bible studies are a part of the House of Representatives and a part of Washington. He felt that the media does a poor job at showing that at times, Republicans and Democrats do work together.

Kern had unique insight into immigration coming from the state of Arizona, seeing the traffic from Mexico. This subject became the main topic of the meeting as locals were interested about how immigration was being controlled and how it should be controlled.

Kern said that Republicans need to do a better job at explaining to illegal immigrants that they have a lot in common.

"We are pro family, they are pro family. We are pro working, they are pro working ..." Kern said. Kern's sister Vickie Thompson asked how they could do a better job at letting illegals know that they want to help them become Americans.

Kern suggested they form a special ministry in their church that focused on bringing in immigrant populations. He said he started such a ministry in a church and had many people coming. While there was occasionally a language barrier, the people could see through Kern's actions that he cared about reaching out to the people.

Those in the audience asked Kern about where the border wall was in terms of becoming a reality. Kern said he strongly backed a border wall and it was a matter of getting funding to build it, which has not been successful so far.

On Monday, President Trump said he would consider shutting down the government in an effort to increase border security.

Conversations continued about how illegal immigrants are hurting the country and state of Minnesota. One audience member noted that immigrants to areas like St. Cloud are not assimilating, that they are not becoming a part of the community, but rather creating their own community.

Poston responded saying that he knows of immigrants that are hard working, and working hard to become citizens. His own grandfather was an immigrant from Ireland. He came to work and he served the country.

"That's the kind of immigrants we want," Poston said, which brought claps from the audience.

One story he shared was of a Hmong man that he knew worked long, hard days in his field then spent evenings going to an English class.

Poston shared about a Minnesota program where Somali refugees are coming in with the help of Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities. He said these entities are bringing in people for a profit, but that this will no longer be a business for them under a new program. Poston said with this new program, there will be consequences for bringing them here.

"If they bring people here, they are going to have a period of time, which looks like it's going to be six months, that once a person is brought here they will get entitlements, for six months, to help them get up and going ... do all the things that Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services are supposed to be doing, but they're not," Poston said. "And at the end of that period of time, those entitlements are going to be charged to the entity that brought them in the state. That's going to happen."

Poston said that hopefully the state will get a Republican governor to help move this program along. Poston hopes this program would be taken on at a federal level.

"We have immigrants coming from all over the world that do assimilate, we have some we have problems with and we've got to fix," Poston said.

Poston was glad he had the opportunity to meet with Kern saying that communication was key between the states.