Immigration reform critical to Iowa’s economic health

Although it is easy to associate immigration with border security alone, it is actually an issue of significance to Iowans. As a national leader in agriculture, the success of this state’s 92,856 farms is critical to our overall economic health. We sell more than $20 billion in agricultural products each year, and one of every 10 workers in this sector is noncitizen. Reform efforts aimed at expanding temporary worker programs could have an incredibly positive impact on Iowa’s agricultural industry. Programs similar to last summer’s Senate bill would mean 961 new jobs for citizens and immigrants, and increase Iowa’s real personal income by $58 million in 2012 dollars.

There is also a moral imperative for a pathway to citizenship or legal residence is developed for undocumented immigrants. Deportation of more than 11 million men, women and children is not feasible nor is it an interpretation of the values this country’s founding fathers put in place. Deportations have caused families to suffer incomparable turmoil and we have witnessed in Iowa communities such as Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown and Postville. Coupled with an expansion to foreign worker programs, a pathway to citizenship would create more than 3,000 jobs and boost Iowa’s economy by nearly $280 million.

Immigration reform will do great things for the United States and Iowa. It is time Congress take action to make such economic growth possible.