DesMoines Register reported that: Iowa business, community, faith and law enforcement leaders today warned that “enforcement-only” approaches to immigration could hurt the state and national economies, especially agriculture.
“Welcoming immigrants is crucial for our economy in Iowa,” said Tom Hughes, president of the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association. He was one of a half dozen leaders who spoke in favor of a state compact supporting federal immigration reform. Immigration is an issue that’s gotten attention from Republican presidential candidates traveling Iowa for its first-in-the-nation caucus.
Utah’s Attorney General Mark Shurtleff also participated in the telephonic press conference, saying a similar compact helped Utah to craft a broader immigration approach, when lawmakers felt they needed to take action. He told reporters he believed Utah’s new law, which provides a guest worker program, would pass “constitutional muster.”
The U.S. Supreme Court said this week it would review Arizona’s tough anti-immigration laws.
Leaders today who spoke in favor of the Iowa Compact, including Martha Willits, chief executive of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, said they hope the document would help head off state legislative efforts, in part because of Iowa business workforce needs.
“The agriculture industry in this country is critically dependent on immigrants, many of whom are legal and have been providing this critical labor for years,” said Hughes, who has been talking with other agricultural groups about immigration challenges. “As we’ve seen in Alabama and Georgia, poor immigration policies are causing American food crops to be lost because of a lack of labor to harvest it.
“The majority of immigrant labor in America is filling an economic labor void that American citizens are not interested or willing to fill,” he said.
Hughes said most commercially grown plants, fruits and vegetables “sold in the state of Iowa has been touched by immigration hands during its production.”
Mary Kramer, former ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean, said immigrants are “integral to our society.”
“Iowans have always taken pride in being a place that welcomes people of good will who seek opportunity,” said Kramer, added that “it’s not a simple problem that can be answered with sound-bite campaign rhetoric.”
“I hope the compact will encourage a civil dialogue that deals with all aspects of the problem,” she said, adding that Americans sometimes struggle to bridge the Statue of Liberty’s message to “give me your tired, your poor and sometimes hateful rhetoric about illegal aliens.”
“I hope we can show leaders there is a better way,” she said.
- Eli Kantor
- Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com