In a matter of days, the first primary caucus of the U.S. presidential election season will kick off in Iowa, a Midwest state that sits between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Iowa is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the U.S. and home to some 40,000 undocumented immigrants, who paid roughly $64.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010.
Marshalltown is an agricultural and industrial town located in central Iowa. Like the rest of Iowa, Marshalltown historically had a mostly white population until the 1980s. According to the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Z. Barabak, the town’s business leaders, facing a labor shortage in the 1980s, turned to Mexico and the rest of Latin America for workers. And so “a flood of immigrants came to work in the town’s big meatpacking plant.” “Today, more than a quarter of Marshalltown’s population is Latino, and there are a substantial number of Southeast Asian and Sudanese immigrants,” Barabak wrote in his column Jan. 22.
Small polls claim they know what Iowans want when it comes to immigration, but do they? The Republican candidates believe they need to talk tough on illegal immigration, even doing the old switch-and-bait tactic on Iowans, but is it really what most in this state want? Many Iowans, according to the Des Moines Register, are now cringing at their state’s reputation as a hotbed for anti-immigrant sentiment, especially since Iowa is a swing state that President Barack Obama carried twice with a comprehensive immigration reform message.
Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of the Family Leader, which describes itself as Iowa’s largest pro-family organization, was quoted by the Des Moines Register as saying border security is indeed a top issue for conservatives in Iowa, but “they want to see a candidate who has a 21st century legal immigration plan.”
In Marshalltown too, not everyone agrees with the tough talk of Donald Trump and other Republicans such as ted Cruz on illegal immigration. Some call it like they see it, according to Barabak, who quoted one resident as saying that all of the candidates are simply “saying [far-fetched] things in order to get through a caucus or a primary or an election,” and “nobody wants to wall off Mexico or round people up, as Donald Trump and others in the Republican field suggest.” Interesting indeed!
Even retired farmer Jim Benson, 87, is on the money. He was quoted as saying, “We get along fine. All we have to do is figure out how to make them legal.” That deserves an encore at least for the Trump and Cruz camps, which are now going at each other to showcase who is more Hitler-esque when it comes to immigrants and immigration.
“All we have to do is figure out how to make them legal.” In a tiny Iowa town, an octogenarian gets it! Why can’t the so-called leaders who claim they want to make America great again?
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.