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Fargo lawmaker wants immigration offices at two state agencies, to help recruit workers

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North Dakota Legislative Council
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Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo)

A Fargo State Senator has introduced two bills to establish immigration offices at the Bank of North Dakota and the Commerce Department.

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) said the legislation is designed to help address the state’s workforce shortage.

"We first of all robbed our rural areas, into our cities, then we went to all of our neighboring communities and states," Mathern said. "We're finding out all of the states in the country are doing the same thing. So we need to look at the whole world."

Mathern said the two offices would help businesses recruit those workers.

"This is not a refugee program," Mathern said. "It's a program for getting people to fill positions."

Mathern said the concept isn’t new. He said many people came to North Dakota from foreign countries. And Mathern said it wasn’t a case that immigrants just showed up here.

"There was actually an 'Office of Immigration,' that helped deal with all the red tape, the hurdles and visa issues," Mathern said. "This is the same thing — an entity that helps solve the hurdles between somebody wanting a job, and the jobs open in North Dakota."

Both House and Senate Majority Leaders are co-sponsors of the Bank of North Dakota Immigration Office bill. The second office – at Commerce – would deal with immigrants and the health care industry.

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