Iowa is not new to politics. As the first-in-the-nation caucus state, our media and communities are deeply involved and invested in the electoral process, from local races to the presidential election. In 2016, our state and nation face significant challenges and as Iowans, we take our role as the first caucus state seriously.
Immigration reform has long been a battle on the national stage. Plans from building a border fence to a pathway to citizenship have been proposed by politician and pundit alike. However, here in Iowa, we value common sense solutions. While we may not agree on specific policy proposals, a majority of Democrats and Republicans agree that a realistic immigration solution needs to be presented and the 2016 election gives us that opportunity.
Our nation’s immigration system is broken. Individuals spend years and even decades for the chance to live their version of the American Dream, awaiting approvals during the legal immigration process. Meanwhile, there are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Clearly, this system needs to be addressed and we owe it to future generations to begin this dialogue now and not to kick the can down the road for our children’s generation to fix.
A solution that continues to be proposed is border security. While this is an important step, border security does not fix the system. Some leaders suggest deportation. Deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants is simply not a realistic solution. A 2015 study from the American Action Forum notes that in order to deport all undocumented immigrants in our country, taxpayers would be footing a $400-600 billion price tag for these efforts. It is not financially or logistically feasible. The real debate revolves around what is to be done to enforce current law and also support reform efforts that benefit our communities and businesses.
In the Des Moines Metro area, our demographics have changed and continue to change; we simply cannot ignore these changing realities. Our communities and economies are growing and becoming more attractive in part to these changes. Urbandale is regularly listed as one of the best cities for home ownership across the state. Additionally, Ankeny also continues to grow and is the fastest growing city in Iowa with data from the recent census.
Our nation is made up of immigrants. We can all point to one family member or another, who took a gamble, risked it all in order to hope for a better future here in the United States. However, our current system is broken and realistic solutions need to be proposed.