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In an issue that some think brings out the worst in all of us, local organizations held a second discussion is as many weeks on immigration.
By Mike Cosentino
Larson Newspapers
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In an issue that some think brings out the worst in all of us, local organizations held a second discussion is as many weeks on immigration.

In response to an earlier meeting which had a more partisan stance, the Cultural Diversity Council and the League of Women Voters sponsored another forum on the local impact of immigration issues at the Sedona Public Library.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 60 people, Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh presented statistics showing that 14 percent of the county?s jail population is comprised of illegal immigrants.

He estimated that there are 28,000 illegal immigrants in Yavapai County. Other estimates suggest there are half-a-million statewide.

Enforcement has changed in the years that Waugh has been on the job, he said. Prior to 1978, a suspect could be stopped simply to check legal resident status.

Waugh discussed current local law enforcement?s options when picking up illegal aliens.

?You could ask for a green card,? he said. ?Now, we cannot do round-ups or sweeps,? he added.

The other panelists at the forum included Dr. Lisa Hirsch, curriculum coordinator of the Sedona-Oak Creek School District; Carol Quasula, program director for the Catholic Charities Community Services, in Cottonwood; Gwen Gunnell, director of the Camp Verde Adult Reading Program; Jeanne Freeland of the Cultural Diversity Council of the Verde Valley and a representative of Yavapai College; and Tomas Bialet, director of the Latin-American Center of Northern Arizona and publisher of El Latino, a Spanish-language newspaper.

The intent was to focus the forum on education, social services, law enforcement and cultural diversity issues as they relate to immigration.

The Cultural Diversity Council meets at the Cottonwood Public Safety Building, 199 S. Sixth St., Cottonwood.


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