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The Latham Report: Deport Immigration Rhetoric, Embrace Real Reform

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Washington, Jun 5, 2008 | comments
As you know, the national debate on immigration is raging, and recently it made an appearance in Iowa when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials conducted the largest immigration raid in American history. The fact that it happened here, in Iowa... in our own back yard... underscores the fact that the American system of immigration is completely and utterly broken.
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As you know, the national debate on immigration is raging, and recently it made an appearance in Iowa when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials conducted the largest immigration raid in American history. The fact that it happened here, in Iowa... in our own back yard... underscores the fact that the American system of immigration is completely and utterly broken.

This same system led us to Postville. This same system led us to Marshalltown. And it didn't take long for people with political agendas to try to convince us that Postville and Marshalltown were the fault of one group or another. But Iowans know better. We know that the responsible thing to do is to look at the whole picture before jumping to conclusions. We have to remember that businesses aren't charities and that people seeking shelter from tyranny and oppression find it easy to make a better life for themselves, and their families, in America. In fact, we are all here for the same reasons. It was our own ancestors who came to America as immigrants. Many of them came to avoid persecution, tyranny, and the terror of oppression. At the heart of it, we are no different.

But as any good 4-H’er will tell you, it’s not just about the heart... many of our ancestors went through immigration at Ellis Island as they steamed from ports all over the world, and when they arrived, they were processed into the country legally. They had to find jobs and compete with the Americans who were already here. They decided to come into an established system, and they knew that it was their responsibility to adapt or face the consequences. America is a land ruled by law, and no man, woman, illegal immigrant or employer is above the law.

There is also a terrible sadness that is created with a broken system of immigration. Families are ripped apart. Small businesses lose money and lay people off. Local governments struggle to maintain basic services. Our rural towns can’t afford large economic hits. People who knowingly present falsified information, and employers who look the other way, are doing an incredible disservice to their communities, to the State of Iowa, and to our great nation. When their failures come to light, we all suffer.

The stark reality is that years of neglect and enforcement of our immigration laws have created a broken system of which there is no easy fix. It must take an effort by both parties, Republicans and Democrats, to drop the bickering and grand standing and work together to achieve a common-sense plan to fix the issue of immigration. For the sake of everyone involved, I pledge to vote for sensible immigration reform, brought to Congress in a bi-partisan fashion, where people from both parties are working together for America's common good. That's the Iowa way. That's Iowa common sense.

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