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New Legislative Committee to Study Immigration

Missouri's House Speaker recently created a special legislative committee to look at the issue of immigration. Republican Representative Ed Emery of Southwest Missouri will chair the committee. The issue of immigration is one that's getting a lot of attention at the federal level. KSMU's Missy Shelton recently interviewed Representative Emery about the committee.

Shelton: Missouri's House Speaker recently created a special legislative committee to look at the issue of immigration. Republican Representative Ed Emery of Southwest Missouri will chair the committee. The issue of immigration is one that's getting a lot of attention at the federal level. My interview with Representative Emery begins with his comments about why it's important for the state to begin looking at the issue of immigration.

Emery: We're concerned that it does take a long time to get something through at the federal level. Missouri has lots of areas that are affected. I've been impressed with how many people came to me and wanted to be on the committee. The object is to examine all the information and try to figure out what the problem is and come up with solutions we can enact as a state, come up with a consistent policy and legislative program that we think will help us out of the crisis we find ourselves in.

Shelton: And give us an idea what that crisis is.

Emery: The crisis depends on where you're standing when you look at it. In summary, we have as many as 22 thousand, I've heard numbers as high as 35 thousand illegals in the state of Missouri. These are people who have woven themselves into the fabric of society. They're a part of everyday activities and yet they are in this country illegally. And we have an issue of justice here that we have to figure out what do we do. You see it in the news daily at the federal level. We have different jurisdictions so we'll be operating at different levels. We'll be looking at the economy, the community. I'm doing my best to start out with no prejudices in terms of where this is going to lead. The first step is to identify what our jurisdiction is and then define the problem as clearly as we can.

Shelton: You're from Southwest Missouri and this is obviously a big issue for certain pockets of Southwest Missouri.

Emery: Carthage is one area that has been influxed with a lot of aliens. The whole area but there are pockets. My district really isn't dramatically impacted. I have heard very few complaints largely because those coming in, you don't know whether they're legal or illegal citizens and if they're contributing to the local economy and infrastructure, people don't ask. But there is a value of citizenship and one of the things I'm very concerned about is the de-valuation of citizenship if we don't find out what issues need to be addressed and address them.

Shelton: This is largely a federal issue. Do you have the authority to address some of these things?

Emery: One of the questions we'll have to define early on and I already have the names of some people with expertise...we're gathering the resources we'll have to go to but that's going to be one of the early questions, what jurisdictions are here? Where do they overlap? Where do we have clear jurisdiction? Where do we have questionable jurisdiction? I personally don't have any problem with going into the questionable areas but I see it as a total waste of time going into the areas where without question we no business in.

Shelton: Thank you.

Emery: Thank you and I appreciate the time.

Shelton: I've been speaking Republican Representative Ed Emery who will chair a special legislative committee on immigration.