Socio-economic stability and our state’s wellbeing is founded in the nucleus of the family. In Iowa, we know of at least 64 working families who reported surveillance, persecution, detention, and deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in the past year. For example, a father of three Iowa born girls, who had made Iowa home for over 25 years, was detained before entering his workplace at 6am in March of 2017. In the case of a West Des Moines family, both parents were detained at their place of work (local Mexican restaurant) in the summer of 2017 and later deported. Their 3-month old child, still breastfeeding, was left with no father or mother to care for him. Now, these four young Iowans are living without their parents and have joined the 67 Iowa children that have had a parent taken from them by ICE in the past year. Destructive bills like SF481 intend to rip apart the family nucleus and therefore destabilize the wellbeing of our state.
Champions of SF481 claim this bill will make our communities safer. Instead, SF481 offers to provide a solution for a problem that does not exist. Research shows that immigrants have a negative correlation with crime. Storm Lake’s Public Safety Director, Mark Prosser, has stated that there is no disproportionate rate of crime within ethnic groups. Several Iowa sheriffs and chiefs have openly stated that immigrant communities will become less likely to report crimes in Iowa with SF481 in place. Our law enforcement needs Iowa working families to communicate in order to better protect and serve our communities. SF481 is a direct challenge to our honorable law enforcement. Local law enforcement currently cooperates with federal authorities. There is no evidence of any Iowa counties failing to cooperate with ICE. Our law enforcement does not have the time, resources, training, or funding to enforce federal law. SF 481 is a distraction and detrimental to the safety of Iowans.
This measure contributes to a climate of fear and economic distress in communities across the state, regardless of status.
In a study in 2015, 63% of respondents affected by ICE reported that family members had difficulty paying mortgage, rent, or utilities, and approximately four in 10 said they had trouble covering medical expenses (42%) and paying food (37%). It costs the state approximately 26,000/year to foster a child. The fiscal and human cost of forcing local municipalities to enforce federal immigration laws is exponential. In addition to accounting for the cost to implement SF481 (e.g. database, Attorney General office, holding innocent hard working family members in local jails, etc).
Contrary to the negative rhetoric, Iowans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant families. The only lobbyist group that supports SF481 is the Iowa Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. It is imperative that state and town localities do not act as federal entities. Instead of adding more cost to our already strained budget, we urge you to consider what aligns with our Iowa values. Keeping families together and keeping our communities safe by nurturing our relationships with local law enforcement is directly in line with Iowa values. People grow the economy. Human persecution destroys the economies by destroying the family nucleus. Trust is built between local law enforcement and working immigrant families focused on the well being of our State of Iowa. SF481 destroys the trust built over decades of careful development. For the wellbeing of our Iowa society and economy, we ask that you consider voting NO for SF481.
Maria Alcivar Zuñiga, Iowa State Doctoral Student, 201-328-2691, firstname.lastname@example.orgMónica Reyes, Mortgage Lender in Des Moines, 641-229-1419, email@example.com