Immigration to Iowa
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Iowa increased by five percent or almost 150,000 people between 1990 and 2000. The growth during this decade brings its population to 2.9 million people. Iowa’s population is expected grow by five percent between 2000 and 2025 to three million people. Iowa’s immigrant population more than doubled during the 1990s. Between 1990 and 2000 Iowa gained 48,000 immigrants bringing the total number of foreign-born residents in the state to 91,000.
Illegal Immigration to Iowa
According to USCIS figures an estimated 24,000 illegal aliens resided in Iowa as of 2000. Iowa employers have been convicted of bringing in illegal aliens to work in the state’s agricultural plants. Iowa’s meatpacking industry is dependent on foreign workers, many of whom are illegal aliens. Without the employment of illegal immigrants, the meat packing industry would have to raise wages and improve working conditions. Most meatpackers do direct recruiting in Mexico with radio ads and paying a private bus companies to transport them to its plants. As many as 25 percent of the workers at meatpacking plants in Nebraska and Iowa were illegal aliens in 1998, as estimated by the District Director of the USCIS. In a check done in 1999, USCIS found that 17 percent of the workers were illegal aliens. More than half the workers were illegal immigrants in most plants.
Current Immigration Laws in Iowa
Two Republican lawmakers are asking Iowa's governor to do what he can to deport illegal immigrants who are serving time in Iowa prisons. Representative Steve Lukan, a Republican from New Vienna, says it's time to step up pressure on federal officials who have refused to deport the prisoners. Lukan cites recent attacks on prison guards as one reason his level of concern has risen. "Unfortunately, it does appear -- and it's some speculation -- but we do think there's up to three different gangs that have actually been forming within Iowa prisons largely connected to the illegal immigrant population," Lukan says. "If you look in the Anamosa Prison cases, for example, all three involved people, Latinos, and I think there is some correlation again with the illegal immigration issue." Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, is extremely frustrated that federal enforcement officials are failing to deport illegal aliens who have broken the law. "One of the last stops I made as a state trooper -- I thought it was a drunk driver left over from the night before. About 6.00 a.m. in the morning and he was just tired...going east into the sun with 25 illegal aliens in the van," Baudler says. "We held them for about four hours and USCIS stated that they would not come and get them." Baudler says it's even more disconcerting to have federal agents refuse to send illegal immigrants who have been convicted of a serious crime back to their home country, rather than have them spend time in an Iowa prison. "People that I deal with and the taxpayers that I hear from are extremely fed up with paying any kind of dollars out for these illegal entrants," Baudler says. "They want them to be sent back to their country of origin." Baudler and Lukan also want to help guards control prisoners by reinstituting dogs into Iowa prisons. Conversely, many maintain that the majority of illegal immigrants are stellar citizens and come to the United States solely to seek employment and work hard. Some employers, especially in the agriculture and meatpacking industries cite that without illegal immigrants, their businesses could not survive because undocumented immigrants often take jobs that are not attractive to American citizens.