Seven of the candidates for governor discussed immigration issues on Sunday as they addressed before members of the Indian Association of Minnesota in Bloomington.
The Indian Association of Minnesota hosted a forum that featured Republican Tom Emmer, Democrats Matt Entenza and Mark Dayton and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner. Each candidate was given ten minutes to address the roughly 100 people in attendance.
Emmer repeated his stance that he's disappointed with the federal government's response on immigration. He didn't mention the newly passed Arizona immigration law but said the state of Minnesota could do more to crack down on illegal immigration.
"I think if the federal government is not going to do its job in making sure that our immigration system works," Emmer said. "It's time to start leading from a state perspective."
Emmer didn't address specifics during his speech but he characterized a newly enacted Arizona law as a "wonderful first step." That law requires law enforcement to question a person's immigration status when enforcing other laws if they have reasonable suspicion to believe the person is in the country illegally.
Some of Emmer's opponents, including Democrat Matt Entenza, criticized Emmer on the law.
"Representative Emmer has decisively endorsed what they have done in Arizona," Entenza said. "I don't want Minnesota to be the place where any immigrant feels like they're not going to be welcome when they're here."
Rob Hahn, who's running for the Independence Party's nomination, received loud applause when he said the Arizona law is "despicable." He also suggested that the federal government should give amnesty to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Republicans Bob Carney and Leslie Davis also appeared at the event.
The forum was unique because it's the first time Emmer appeared on stage with his DFL and I-P rivals since he won the GOP endorsement in May. One of his opponents noted to the audience that he hasn't been appearing at forums that feature the candidates.
"It was good to see Representative Emmer. Some of us have forgotten what he looked like," Horner, the I-P's endorsed candidate, quipped.
John Gunyou, who is the DFL Party's endorsed candidate for Lieutenant Governor, spoke to the group in place of DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
Kelliher announced on Sunday that she's doing a statewide tour to announce her jobs strategy. She'll make stops in Duluth, Keewatin, Faribault, Brainerd and Richfield over the next week.
Kelliher says she'll propose a $1 billion dollar bonding bill in each of her first two years as governor. She wants to create jobs with flood mitigation and preservation projects, and by rebuilding roads and bridges.
"We have a plan that over the first 12 months, 18 months, and the first four years will get many Minnesotans back to work," Kelliher said. "And each of these things working together either through executive order or working with the Legisltature to get the job done will put minnesotans back to work."
Kelliher is vying for the DFL nomination against Entenza and former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton. The primary will be held on August 10th.
Here are the speeches from the candidates (in order of appearance):
Republican Tom Emmer: Listen
Independence Pary's Tom Horner: Listen
DFLer Matt Entenza: Listen
Republican Leslie Davis: Listen
DFLer Mark Dayton: Listen
Independence Party's Rob Hahn: Listen
Republican Bob Carney: Listen
Here's Kelliher's news conference: Listen
(MPR's Rupa Shenoy contributed to this story).