Find middle ground on immigration

Gazette Editorial Board


The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will decide whether Arizona and other states can target illegal immigrants with their own laws. The court’s ruling, expected by summer, likely will fuel debate in the presidential election race.

Closer to home, a group of Iowa business, law enforcement and faith leaders on Tuesday announced the signing of The Iowa Compact, a bipartisan effort that urges federal lawmakers to finally take action on national immigration reform after years of bitter debate and no progress. Iowa Compact founders say there must be a middle ground for such reform and, without it, our economy and communities will pay an increasingly heavy price.

Here, here. As we have editorialized many times, it’s high time for for Congress to do its duty and fix the federal immigration system. This is not a role for states to handle individually. And as immigrants follow the jobs, non-border states such as Iowa feel the effects of federal inaction.

The gridlock we lamented in an August 2010 editorial largely remains:

“Illegal immigration critics on the right refuse to acknowledge the reality that sweeping all undocumented immigrants from the country is an impossible objective that ignores the significant economic contribution they make to the nation.

“On the left, too many immigrant advocates refuse to acknowledge the real frustrations and anxieties that have fueled cries for a crackdown in Arizona and elsewhere. The federal government’s inability to deal with the problem has left states and their citizens to take immigration enforcement into their own hands.”

The Iowa Compact declares five guiding principles for our state:

l Immigration policy is the purview of the federal government. Because illegal immigrants often crosses state lines.

l Respect the rule of law. Immigration law should focus on the major security threats and serious criminal activity, while avoiding policies that have negative economic and humanitarian impacts on communities.

l Keep families together. They are the foundation of communities. (The massive federal immigration raid on Postville’s Agriprocessors plant in 2008 serves as a prime example of why federal reform should avoid splitting up families as much as possible.)

l Meet economic needs. Immigrants play a major role as entrepreneurs, workers, consumers and taxpayers, and Iowa should be a welcoming, commerce-friendly state.

l Be a culturally rich, welcoming state. Support policies that help law-abiding immigrants become civic participants and enrich our culture.

Reasonable guidelines. We urge our congressional delegation to consider The Iowa Compact’s overall message and renew efforts to find the workable middle ground in 2012.

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