Baldemar Velasquez speaks out about latest immigration debate

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Baldemar Velasquez is one of the most outspoken supporters of migrant workers and unions and has been for nearly fifty years.

"Lot's of people reacting to the family separations, children in cages, and trying to essentially treat symptoms of a larger deep-rooted problem that is set historically," said Velasquez.

Dozens gathered Sunday to listen to Velasquez share his knowledge on immigration and explain what the organization he founded and leads, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, does in Toledo.

"Most of the migrants that I know, that I represent, they come with work visas in the United States. They don't want to come here and live, they want to come here and work, and build their homes in Mexico.

Velasquez says there may be as many as 10,000 undocumented immigrants in the area. He says many are not paid well.

Many in the audience at the forum asked what they can do to help.

Velasquez says the country needs to face the immigration issue head on.

"We need to look for a way to help them stay in their home country, so that we don't have this issue at the border in the first place," said Velasquez.

Given his experience working with immigrants for several decades, Velasquez has a viewpoint that many in the audience found persuading, including Toledo City Councilwoman Sandy Spang.

"I think it's always important to be informed about the issues that are relevant at both the local, state, and federal level. I think coming here tonight, people were able to hear a perspective that they maybe hadn't heard before," said Spang.

"We have to organize the poor, organize the immigrants, so they can find their collective voice. There's a lot of people speaking for them, but you don't see them speaking for themselves a lot of times," said Velasquez.

President Trump tweeted about immigration Sunday:

"I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!"

Velasquez responded to Trump's tweet by saying "Fifty years from now if he ever builds a wall, it will come down as one of the most ignorant and anti-intellectual thought out phenomenon in history to spend that much money on a wall, when it can be utilized to do other things in this country."