Migration: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Protects Americans and Progressives Complain

by NEIL MUNRO 15 Apr 2024

Business-backed progressives are slamming Iowa’s Republican politicians for passing a popular law that partly protects Americans from President Joe Biden’s vast migration inflow.

The protection law, signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, is a “ridiculous political stunt” claimed the Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, a government-funded advocacy and legal group for migrants:

Welcoming immigrants and refugees is the definition of what “Iowa Nice” should be … Iowa politicians moved this ridiculous stunt forward in an election year in order to perpetuate partisan campaign rhetoric, drive fear in immigrant communities and mobilize voters using fear and anti-immigrant sentiment. Immigrants’ rights organizations are ready to fight back and work to block this unconstitutional law from going into effect. We know that we all belong here, Iowa is home, and we will stand together as workers, families and allies to defend each other.

Iowa’s rural economy is deeply shaped by the meatpacking firms that fill up towns with migrants who process the food from local farms. This flood of foreign labor helps expand the farming industry, but it also suppresses wages state-wide and pushes up local rents. For example, retail checkout workers earn roughly $39,000 a year in Storm Lake, where meat cutters earn just below $16 per hour, according to Indeed.com.

Reynolds signed the protection bill on April 10, saying:

The Biden Administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk. Those who come into our country illegally have broken the law, yet Biden refuses to deport them. This bill gives Iowa law enforcement the power to do what he is unwilling to do: enforce immigration laws already on the books.

The Iowa law allows police and judges to pressure illegal migrants to leave the state. But it does not block the Biden migrants who are getting legally questionable work permits and parole documents from Biden’s pro-migration border chief.

The fate of the Iowa law is tied to a similar law in Texas, which lets Texas police enforce state versions of federal immigration laws that are being ignored by Biden’s deputies.

The Iowa law is likely very popular. RasmussenReports.com reported:

73% of Likely Iowa Voters believe the state should mandate that all employers use the federal electronic E-Verify system to help ensure that they hire only legal workers for U.S. jobs. Only 14% oppose mandating E-Verify, while another 10% are not sure … The survey of 925 Iowa Likely Voters was conducted on April 5-9, 2023 by Rasmussen Reports and NumbersUSA.

However, the business-backed opponents have plenty of time to persuade a judge to put the law on hold before it comes into force.

The critics usually emphasize the claimed rights or illegals and the potential economic losses to CEOs and investors — and rarely consider the benefits for Americans.

The ACLU complained: ” This law, which is set to go into effect on July 1, 2024, authorizes police to arrest people based on their federal immigration status and tells Iowa judges to order someone to be deported or jailed before they have an opportunity to seek humanitarian protection that they are entitled to.”

“A heavy-handed, ‘arrest and deport’ approach to immigration policy should be rejected in favor of something more flexible,” said Anthony Pahnke, the vice president of a business group, Family Farm Defenders.

But one prominent critic admitted that he just prefers a culturally diverse and chaotic society over prosperity for ordinary Americans.

“When I was a kid, the town was relatively more prosperous with union meat cutters and independent farmers,” admitted Art Cullen, who is the editor of the Storm Lake Times Pilot.

But after the unions were broken and wages were slashed, he wrote April 12, “Most of us in [Iowa’s] Storm Lake have grown used to the polyglot [diversity]. Many of us revel in it. The City Beautiful is a more interesting place than it was when it was all-white … It is a richer place in that we now have a Buddhist temple.”

Iowa’s establishment media lavishes more attention on illegal migrants than the many ordinary Americans who have been sidelined and impoverished by the imported workforces. On April 15, for example, the Des Mointer Register posted an article about the impending closure of the Tyson Foods meatpacking plant in Perry, Iowa, which has 1,276 employees. The article was headlined, “Tyson gave immigrants, refugees footing in US.

Where will they go when Perry plant closes?” and declared:

In January 2006, Ignacio Calderon reached his 10th anniversary at Tyson Foods in Perry … Calderon was 36 years old and married with four young children. Ten years of steady work and decent pay at the pork plant gave the Michoacán, Mexico, native a chance to put down roots in central Iowa. He bought a home in Perry and a car. And in another five years, he and his wife would welcome their fifth child.

That’s why news of the plant’s permanent closure hit him hard. Calderon, now 53, says he never imagined the company to which he devoted nearly half his life would be closing for good — replacing his livelihood with uncertainty. “It was a big surprise for all of us,” Calderon said in an interview in Spanish. “We were all stressed out, sad. This was a big deal, and nobody knew that this was going to happen.”

The newspaper noted:

Nearly 70% of employees at the Tyson location in Perry are Black and Latino, said Roger Kail, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1149, which represents 700 to 800 of the plant’s workers … Those figures mirror Tyson’s workforce across the U.S., made up of more than 60% minority groups and 39% women, according to a 2023 annual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report from the company.

Tyson recently announced it is hiring some of Biden’s new migrants — instead of the laid-off Perry workers — for work in Tennessee jobs.

In general, meatpacking firms are reluctant to buy high-tech meatpacking machines that would help their American workers more productive, partly because migrant workers are both cheap and disposable. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 15 that meatpackers spent only about five percent of their capital investments on advanced automation in 2023. In contrast, European meatpackers spend heavily on automation and robots, so allowing higher wages for their workers.

In 2017, Cullen was given a Pulitzer prize for his positive coverage of the meatpackers’ reliance on cheap foreign labor. He displayed that approach in his April 12 article:

This is Storm Lake, rich with immigrants from around the world. The town builds new schools with strong voter support. St. Mary’s Catholic Church is revitalized by Latinos. Mexican artists are putting up another mosaic mural, this time at Buena Vista University. They work hard at Tyson, producing pork and turkey zipping past on a line that goes faster for your meat budget.

Lake Avenue is full with food fare that can sate any palate. Immigrants have built carpentry, electrical and plumbing businesses. Their children perform in the school plays, excel on the soccer and football fields, and hope to attend Buena Vista University. Immigrants are firefighters and nurses, school board and city council members, community volunteers.

A 1995 article described how the prosperous Storm Lake was transformed by the use of migrant labor:

The [1982] transition from Hygrade [Hygrade Food Products Corp.] to IBP [Inc.] had tremendous consequences for Storm Lake’s [meatpacker] work force. As they described themselves, Hygrade workers represented a stable, local work force that enjoyed high wages and strong union representation. In many ways, they embodied the “old” Storm Lake, with its white population of European descent, working-class values, and a satisfaction with rural life that encouraged deep roots in the community.

By contrast, IBP—one of the so-called new breed meatpackers—drove down wages and benefits, increased productivity, neutralized unions, experienced high employee turnover, and relied increasingly on immigrant and refugee labor. When IBP opened in 1982, very few Hygrade workers were hired, and new workers increasingly came from the global labor market that looked less and less like the local population.

Cullen’s article did not mention the burden on native-born Americans. However, he does say that immigrants are good for the American investors who own local banks and land:

Immigrants have been good for Storm Lake, for sure as it stands today. The Browns [a local fmailty descended from 19th century immigrants] are Irish, the Dvergstens Norwegian and the Schallers originally hail from Alsace-Lorraine. Now they own three Storm Lake banks and help newcomers start a new life like their ancestors did.

Extraction Migration

Since at least 1990, the federal government has relied on Extraction Migration to grow the consumer economy after it helped investors move the high-wage manufacturing sector to lower-wage countries.

The migration policy extracts vast amounts of human resources from needy countries. The additional workers, consumers, and renters push up stock values by shrinking Americans’ wages, subsidizing low-productivity companies, boosting rents, and spiking real estate prices.

The economic policy has pushed many native-born Americans out of careers in a wide variety of business sectors, reduced Americans’ productivity and political clout, slowed high-tech innovation, shrunk trade, crippled civic solidarity, and incentivized government officials and progressives to ignore the rising death rate of discarded Americans.

The policy also sucks jobs and wealth from heartland states by subsidizing coastal investors and government agencies with a flood of low-wage workers, high-occupancy renters, and government-aided consumers. Similar policies have damaged citizens in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The colonialism-like policy has damaged small countries and has killed hundreds of Americans and thousands of migrants, including many on the taxpayer-funded jungle trail through the Darien Gap in Panama.