Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Immigration mitigation?

by Lydia Pfaff, DI columnist

Last week's rise and rapid meltdown of immigration reform is unfortunate, on many levels. The largely bipartisan reform measures sought to tackle the serious problems associated with illegal immigration that for years have been swept under the mat.

Immigration reform should be of particular concern for those of us in Iowa, given the impressive influx of Latinos to the Midwest in the past 15 years. The familiar Postville situation displays the consequent tensions that can result whenever a large immigrant population attempts to assimilate into a previously homogenous population, as much of our state is.

For Iowa, in particular, a stronger embrace of immigrants could provide innumerable benefits for the economic conditions in the state. Despite steady economic development in eastern Iowa, Iowa Workforce Development estimates that the state will face a major labor shortage by 2012. Immigration reform - which, as President Bush has proposed, would grant citizenship to some illegal immigrants, coupled with greater support for immigrant workers - could help to stall this attrition of the Iowa workforce.

Recent demonstrations by immigrants across the country demonstrate the saliency of this issue. It is unfortunate that such an important piece of legislation was derailed by congressional politics.

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