Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., visited with city leaders and small business owners to hear their concerns. The congressman held meetings in Madras, Redmond and Bend Monday afternoon.
Walden said he felt it was important to visit Central Oregon because these are the people he works for -- though a group of protesters who showed up at one stop said they feel the congressman isn't accessible enough, and they took time to let him know.
"We need to start having the dialogue, or the constructive dialogue, and we need him to lead it,” said Greg Delgado, a Bend resident. “We need him to be a leader in our communities and hear our voice."
Delgado was one of the protesters in support of migrant workers who stood outside Deschutes Brewery in Bend. Inside, the congressman held a small-business roundtable with the Bend Chamber of Commerce to talk economic issues.
"So if we're going to grow jobs, increase wages and help people move forward, we have to make sure we have a vibrant economy that's underpinned by the small business community," Walden said.
Walden, who is up for re-election this year, said he talked to some of the protesters at his earlier Madras town hall, and acknowledged immigration is an issue with a nationwide impact.
"I think it's an important national issue, and you're going to see the House take up these issues one at a time as individual bills in the spring and summer," Walden said.
Delgado’s concerns stretched beyond migrant worker deportations. He followed the congressman to all his meetings Monday to listen to what he had to say and to make sure his voice was heard.
"This is not just about immigration,” Delgado said. “This is about communities that have voices, and want to have these discussions and talk about what these look like. We’re all working together to make that happen, and we're going to be very active and non-stop until we have dialogue with our leadership and make this happen."
Walden’s next stop is Southern Oregon, where he'll hold health care meetings in Grants Pass and Medford.