RACINE - Mayor John Dickert wants to find out what issues immigrants face locally and work to address them.
He has been working with members of Racine Interfaith Coalition, a local nonprofit organization, to form an immigration advisory committee.
The members of the committee have not yet been decided, but Dickert said likely the committee will meet for the first time next month. He will be a member of the committee, he said.
The committee will look at immigration issues in Racine, talk about what should be done and assist people who need help finding resources, Dickert said.
The city will help with issues where it can, but in some cases they will have to send recommendations to the federal government which has more control over immigration issues, he said.
Michael Mueller, the organizer for the Racine Interfaith Coalition, said he would like to see the commission act similar to the Commission on Immigrant Affairs in Austin, Texas.
That commission helps provide education to the immigrant community and makes recommendations to the city council on policies affecting immigrants in Austin, said Miguel Ancira, a member of the Austin commission. They are now working on printing emergency contact cards for people who don't speak English, Ancira said. The cards will say what language the person speaks and will have space for people to provide an emergency contact who can speak English, Ancira said. They are also organizing a fair this fall to help legal residents apply for citizenship, he said.
In Racine, there are legal immigrants who don't know where to go to find assistance, Dickert said. He wants to help point them in the right direction. But the committee will be limited in what it can do about illegal immigrants.
"There is not a lot we can do about illegal immigrants in the city, that is a federal issue," Dickert said.