Iowans Call for Better Immigration Conversation

Communications Associate

January 28, 2016

DAVENPORT, IOWA — In front of hundreds in the room and on live stream Wednesday evening, Iowan faith, law enforcement and business leaders called for a conversation on immigration based on compassion and reality, instead of venomous rhetoric.

A day before tonight’s GOP debate in Des Moines and days before the Iowa Caucuses, speakers encouraged a values-focused conversation around immigrants and immigration at the Quad Cities New Ideas Forum panel discussion and on a preview press call.

Speakers underscored the need to make the conversation “about people, not politics.”

“I can only be as effective as the community allows me to be,” said Police Chief Mike Tupper of Marshalltown, Iowa, on Wednesday’s press call. “There’s no doubt that the current system is broken and that it undermines trust in our immigrant communities. As the caucuses draw near, I hope we’ll remember that we’re talking about real people, we’re talking about families. And hopefully we’ll have a positive and productive conversation based on trust and respect, and can move away from hostility and hatred.”

“We’re dealing with human beings here,” Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald of Story County, Iowa, said during the panel discussion. “And we must be in a position where we enforce the law, but we also have to be compassionate.”

“A talented and educated workforce is the most important resource to a growing economy,” said Greg Aguilar, Director of Talent Attraction & Retention at the Quad Cities Chamber, a panelist and press call speaker. “A great number of immigrants and children of immigrants have made major impacts in Fortune 500 companies. Immigration is a tool that helps bring in great talent that helps fill skills gaps that our nation is facing.”

Pastor Doug Rowland, Pastor of Outreach Ministries at Harvest Bible Chapel in Davenport, added, “If you’re [going to] talk about the spectrum of whether it’s mass deportation or whether it’s blanket amnesty, [it’s] neither really. I’m thankful there’s nothing in the federal law currently that says as a pastor or as a church, we’re not to love an undocumented worker.”

“Across Iowa and across the country, leaders in faith, law enforcement and business continue to speak for a commonsense conversation around immigration,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “These leaders recognize what so many other Americans do: Immigrants are a great attribute for our cities, our communities, our economy.

“America is better when we lead with compassion, not fearmongering. The sooner our politicians recognize that immigration is about people, not politics, the better off our whole country will be.