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Supporters and opponents of the proposed E-verify ordinance are campaigning away in Springfield. If approved, the ordinance would require businesses to check the immigration status of all new employees using a federal E-Verify computer system. Some people have raised money to promote their messages through advertising on the radio, phone bank operations, and other venues. Now as the final vote approaches on Feb. 7, the groups are stepping up their efforts to make sure the public is aware of the issue. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.
Jerry Wilson, spokesman for the Ozark Minutemen, is a supporter of the proposal, and has been since the beginning. He says this campaign started about a year and a half ago with a small group of followers.
“It’s been a long, arduous journey to be where we are now. We spent the first part of last year with a group of very dedicated volunteers, very small group, less than about a dozen people. In the winter we were in the cold and the snow, and in the summer we were in the heat, but everybody stayed with it.”
With just about one week left until the vote, the Minutemen are taking every opportunity to make sure that the public understands the ballot measure. For instance, Tuesday night, he’s taking part in a non-partisan public meeting hosted by the League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri. The meeting is called “A Civil Discussion on E-Verify.” The program will focus on the ordinance and the ballot language, and will host representatives from both sides to serve as panelists, including Wilson.
“This is an opportunity for the community to get information directly from both sides. This is a contentious issue, we recognize that, and people with good conscience can disagree on it.”
Opponents of the proposal have also been working hard to spread their message. One coalition called “Citizens for a United Springfield” does not agree with the proposal. According to the coalition, the group has raised more than $3,000 through direct donations from the Hispanic community alone, and collected more than $15,000 through different fundraisers held throughout the year. Clark Brown, treasurer for the coalition, says starting today, they will hand out yard signs and mail out advertisements to community members.
“There will be two mailings to the general public; one will be of a larger nature, and then I think the second round of mailings swings back a little bit on the population of voters out there.”
Clark also encourages voters to attend the public meeting tomorrow night, and to go vote on the issue on Feb. 7.
The panel starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Central High School Auditorium. The address is 423 E. Central St.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.
Anchor tag: Website on information for the LWV panel: click here.