MADRAS, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden wrapped up a series of Central Oregon town hall meetings with a stop in Madras, Wednesday morning. Adults and students filled the Madras Performing Arts Center with questions on a number of topics.
Dan Carlson, disabled veteran from Culver, brought up the issue of illegal immigration. He tells KBND News, "We are a country of immigrants, but there's a difference between immigrant and undocumented alien, or illegal alien. And, we need to shore up our borders like the Senator confirmed he was going to help do, because without borders we have no country."
Some Warm Springs students took issue with Carlson's comments. Malia Collins is a Senior at Madras High School, "It, honestly, made me feel a little uncomfortable thinking that there are some people out there that do not want immigrants in this country and have those beliefs. But, I know that that's what America is, is to have your own rights and your own beliefs; and, belief systems are very strong in some people. If you do research you know this country is built on immigrants. Being native American, it's really kind of ironic when people talk about immigration, considering that native Americans are the only non-immigrants in this country." Savannah Holliday agrees, "I was kind of uncomfortable, like Malia, and I was kind of offended because we're a nation built on immigrants and I believe that we all have a right to be here."
Despite the disagreements, Senator Wyden tells KBND News he's pleased everyone remained civil. "What was different about this meeting is you almost had a little bit of an exchange between the younger people and the older people. You had issues with respect to immigration, for example, healthcare concerns. And, in many respects, this was kind of vintage Jefferson County because you really got a chance to see a cross-section of views." Wyden says he plans to take the feedback he's gotten from this week's meetings in Sisters, Prineville and Madras back to Washington, DC to try and find common ground on these controversial issues.