Immigration leads town hall discussion with Grassley

Strong opinions were expressed on all sides of the immigration reform debate to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, during a town hall meeting Thursday in Marshalltown.

Some favored securing the border, others favored programs for undocumented immigrants to come for work and be able to go between the countries and others just wanted the current laws to be enforced.

Grassley brought with him the 884-page immigration reform bill to show how cluttered bills can get in Washington. He said the bill could be up for debate next week. Grassley did not make any firm statements on the reform but did talk about the hiring of immigrants.

“I’m going to insist … that every employer make a good faith effort to hire people that are already here before we bring people in,” Grassley said.

A wide range of other topics were discussed during Grassley’s 70 minutes at Dejardin Hall on the campus of Marshalltown Community College.

One topic was the possibility of taxing Internet sales. Grassley said he would probably vote against it, saying smaller Internet businesses might not be able to understand the multitude of taxing units.

“The small businesses that do Internet sales, I think it’s going to be a real problem for them,” Grassley said.

As far as passing a budget, Grassley said there’s been more progress on that recently than in the past three years. There is a possibility the House and Senate would go into conference to discuss it.

“I don’t know whether that will happen or not,” Grassley said.

On the subject of Medicaid and Medicare, Grassley said he feels President Barack Obama’s plan is too shortsighted. He said the programs need to be fixed for the long term, not just the short term.

After the meeting, Grassley answered international security questions on North Korea and Syria. Since the Boston bombings, fewer headlines have gone to North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-Un.

“The same danger is out there,” Grassley said. “They are progressing with their nuclear weapons so that’s something to fear. It seems like the immediate threat has quieted down a bit.”

Syria has likely used chemical weapons, which has been admonished by Obama. Grassley said Obama needs to stand firm on the issue.

“I think the president has drawn a line in the sand, and if he doesn’t stick up to that line in the sand, he’s going to encourage more people disregarding us,” Grassley said.