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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa Republicans in Congress last week voted against two important immigration reform bills. They said the country needs to bolster legal immigration, not give a pass to illegal immigration.
Meanwhile on Fox News, Tucker Carlson said the country is 'jammed with people” due to illegal immigration.
'This is becoming a crowded country, and crowded countries are ugly, unhappy countries. Why are we letting that happen? Well, that's a rhetorical question, of course. No one asked us what we wanted, they just did it,” Carlson said on his prime-time program last week.
Carlson mimicked former President Donald Trump, who said in 2019, 'Our country is full.”
Crowded? Full? That would be surprising news to Iowans, who live in a sparsely populated state where communities are desperate for new residents.
The United States ranks 79th for population density, right between Venezuela and Peru, according to United Nations data. If the U.S. population doubled, we still would place around No. 62 on the list.
Iowa ranks in the bottom half of the nation for population density. Many of our small towns would love to be more dense. Without more residents, they'll soon disappear.
Iowa needs workers for unfilled jobs, customers for Main Street businesses, entrepreneurs to take up empty storefronts, homeowners to pay property taxes and children to attend endangered schools.
Instead of embracing immigrants, Iowa is competing for its small share of the quickly aging and slowly growing native population. We run out-of-state advertising campaigns begging other Americans to move their families to Iowa. Some communities are even exploring programs to offer monetary incentives to transplants. There's a bill in the Iowa Legislature to give grants to newcomers who work here remotely for out-of-state companies.
We're literally bribing people to come live in Iowa. Simultaneously, the federal government is keeping out hundreds of thousands of would-be Americans, could-be Iowans.
Elsewhere in conservative politics, there is a movement calling for the government to incentivize child rearing through tax credits and subsidies. They realize that rural states like Iowa need more inhabitants, but they don't want the ones with brown skin.
As the disgraced former U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa said, 'You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies. You've got to keep your birthrate up, and you need to teach your children your values.”
The U.S. House last week approved two bills that would offer protection to people who illegally came to the country: The American Dream Act provides a pathway to citizenship to some illegal immigrants, including those brought here as minors; the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would expand legal status for immigrant agriculture workers.
The bills earned Republican support in the House, including from neighbors in Nebraska and Illinois, but not from Iowa's three GOP representatives.
Iowa U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra voted against both bills and recently made comments decrying the Biden administration's handling of the surge in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The crisis at the border can be blamed in part on U.S. policy, but not in the way these politicians claim.
'I believe we must secure our border before we can explore substantive immigration reform,” Feenstra said in a statement.
'We need to be focusing on legal immigration right now,” Hinson said on a call with reporters, as reported by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
'These individuals are coming over here because they want a better life, they want to work, and they're coming illegally but they are at the behest of the cartels and smugglers. This is a huge racket where the cartels and smugglers make money off these families and these poor children,” Miller-Meeks said in a video recorded on her recent trip to the border.
On that, Miller-Meeks is right. But they're all wrong about the proper policy prescription.
There is one surefire way to put the cartels and smugglers out of business - legalize drugs and make it easy to legally come to America. That would eliminate demand for their services.
Which immigrants are legal and which are illegal is a choice the government makes. Some conservatives want a centrally planned population, while some leftists want a centrally planned economy. Neither works.
The overwhelming majority of immigrants, legal or illegal, are peaceful and productive. Some surveys show immigrants are even more patriotic than native-born citizens.
The truth is, Iowa needs immigrants. We can't afford to be picky about how they got here.
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