immigration

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Along Interstate 80 in Iowa, near the Illinois border, is The World’s Largest Truck Stop – at least that’s what it claims. It has parking for 900 big rigs, there are restaurants, showers, even a dentist. Driver Roosevelt Phillips is here from Pittsburgh. He says truck stops like this one are a community.

“We talk about everything. I mean, y’know, I’m an adult so I’m talking to another truck driver, so we talk about whatever comes up,” Phillips says.

They talk about everything from politics to the news of the day – and the strange activity they see on the road.

Meghan Gerke / Iowa Cubs

Thousands of people are being sworn in as U.S. citizens across the country during this holiday weekend.  One of the ceremonies happens Monday in Des Moines during the Iowa Cubs baseball game.  It’s coordinated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Spokesperson Tim Counts says combining immigration and Independence Day is a perfect union to honor new Americans.

Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson / Kirkus Reviews

Children's author Sarvinder Naberhaus' family emigrated from India to Ames in 1965. In her new book, Blue Sky White Stars, Naberhaus juxtaposes the design of the American flag with what the country represents to her and many others chasing the American Dream.

Flickr / David Wilson

A Muscatine mother of four who was born in Mexico will not be deported for breaking a state law. Prosecuting Martha Martinez for identity theft would have jeopardized her legal residency through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Martinez came to Iowa from Mexico when she was 11 years old.  As a young adult she used a false identity to gain employment.

Flickr Creative Commons

One morning on her way to school in Des Moines last month, 15-year-old Estela got a call from her mother. Her father had been arrested while going to work at a construction company.

“My dad was walking towards the office when the cars came in and told him to stop and pointed his guns at him.”

Estela’s father has a criminal conviction for re-entering the United States. Estela was born here. Her parents came to the U.S. fleeing violence in Mexico. We’re not using Estela's full name because her mother is also undocumented and fears she could also be arrested.

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

At the public library in the rural Morgan County town of Brush, Colorado, Marissa Velazquez welcomes her students to class. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and today marks the halfway point in Velazquez’s class, a ten-week crash course on American history, civics and English.

Everyone in it has the same goal: become an American citizen. In two hours, Velazquez runs through voting rights, the legislative process and some grammar tips.

Pushed by worker advocates and growing consumer awareness, Tyson Foods on Wednesday promised better conditions for workers at its meat processing plants.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad today condemned anti-immigrant comments that appeared in a weekend tweet from Republican 4th District Representative Steve King.   

King wrote in support of anti-immigration Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders who wants to ban the Quran in the Netherlands and shut down mosques.   

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King tweeted.   “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.”

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson

During the time Chuck Hagel served as U.S. Secretary of Defense, Russia invaded Ukraine and the Syrian Civil War was at its height.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Hagel about current threats at home and abroad - getting his views on cyber-security, President Donald Trump’s new so-called travel ban, Trump’s call for greater defense spending, as well as the future of the Republican party.

A Latino advocacy group is warning undocumented immigrants in Iowa to watch out for federal agents, following a string of immigration arrests in the state.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) reported several recent arrests this week in a news release.

LULAC National Vice President for the Midwest Joe Enriquez Henry said he is concerned about possible racial profiling by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Johnson County will not assist in federal immigration raids or honor voluntary detainer requests. That is according to a statement made Monday by the county’s Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Office.

The statement replaces a similar resolution that was coming up for a vote Tuesday. It maintains that county resources will not be used for enforcing federal immigration laws.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on a resolution that would prevent county resources from being used to enforce immigration laws.

Under the draft resolution, the sheriff’s office would not actively try to detect undocumented immigrants. Johnson County would also refuse to detain people based on requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This does not prevent federal agents from enforcing immigration laws in the county.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A bill advanced at the statehouse Thursday to outlaw the so-called sanctuary policies Iowa communities may adopt that could protect undocumented immigrants.   

Advocates for immigrants crowded into a committee room to oppose the bill.

The bill makes it illegal to adopt a policy that discourages enforcement of federal immigration laws.  

Under a Des Moines Public School resolution, immigration officials would not have access to students except through the superintendent.  

Sarah Boden/IPR

Hundreds of Iowans participated in Des Moines’s “Day Without Immigrants” march, an event that was one of many taking place around the country yesterday. 

The march is designed to highlight the importance of immigrant labor to the US economy. Dozens of Latino-owned businesses closed and people took off work to make the point that immigrants provide an important source of labor, often by taking on low-pay, backbreaking jobs many US citizens don’t want.

FLICKR / KATY WARNER

A case pending before the Iowa Supreme Court could result in the deportation of many immigrants who currently have legal status. It considers whether Muscatine County is interfering with federal immigration policy by prosecuting a woman for identity fraud and forgery.

MONICA REYES, FOUNDER, DREAM IOWA

Yesterday, President Donald Trump fired the top federal government lawyer, acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she took the rare step to defy the White House when she refused to defend new travel restrictions targeting seven nations which have a majority of Muslim citizens. The executive order signed Friday halts travel to the U.S. by residents of those countries, and suspends refugee admissions for 120 days. It also indefinitely shuts down the admission of Syrian refugees to the U.S. 

Wikimedia Commons

At 7:00 p.m. Central Standard Time, President Donald Trump will announce his nominee to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, which has remained unfilled since Justice Antonin Scalia died last year. During this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with Todd Pettys, a professor at the University of Iowa Law School, about possible nominees. 

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa City’s council members readily agreed there is currently no problem with immigrants, some of them University of Iowa students.

WIKICOMMONS / American007

Iowa City is considering whether to formally declare itself as a "sanctuary city." There’s no legal definition for the term, but it generally means a municipality has implemented policies limiting its cooperation with federal immigration authorities

The city council and staff will discuss adopting such policies, as well as the formal title, at 5:00 pm this afternoon during a work session.

Mayor Jim Throgmorton says he’s not in favor of Iowa City formally clearing itself a sanctuary city.

Flickr / Katy Warner

A Muscatine woman argued at the Iowa Supreme Court that since the employment of immigrants is regulated by the federal government, she’s protected from state identity theft charges. How the high court rules has significant implications for Iowa's undocumented immigrant community. 

In 1997, 11-year-old Martha Martinez came to the US as an undocumented immigrant. In 2014 she was charged with using a fake identity to gain employment.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

This election campaign of 2016 has seen attacks on Mexicans as criminals and rapists, as well as a call for a ban on Muslim immigrants.  This hour, we continue our summer series "Beyond Iowa Nice" with a look at the contentious issue of immigration and get the thoughts of a number of Iowans on the issues involved.  We hear from Iowans with contrasting perspectives and from communities in Iowa most impacted by immigrants, including Marshalltown and Perry.

BBC World Service

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with José Orduña, author of The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement. In his book, Orduña tells his family's story of emigrating from Mexico and reflects on the process of becoming a North American citizen in a post-9/11 United States.

Orduña says that even after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, he still has feelings on injustice and anger towards the system.

WIKICOMMONS / Ser Amantio di Nicolao

An Iowa woman who lost her daughter in a car crash allegedly caused by an undocumented Honduran immigrant testified before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Michelle Root says her daughter Sarah was killed on the day she graduated college by Edwin Mejia, who was drag racing while intoxicated.

Root says due to the Obama administration’s immigration policies, Mejia was able to post bail and then possibly fled the country after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency declined to detain him.

TEDx MidAtlantic / Flickr

Before Iowans make up their minds before caucus night, Jose Antonio Vargas wants them to consider a few more perspectives. The founder of Define American, a non-profit organization dedicated to pushing forward the conversation around immigration, he decided to bring that discussion to Iowans through film.

"The conversation is way too simplified. We don't have enough context and we don't have enough facts. The goal of this festival at its core is to really humanize the issue and to present a vast array of stories. There isn't one immigrant story."

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Trustees from the U.S. Conference of Mayors were in Des Moines Monday afternoon, ahead of the Brown and Black Presidential Forum at Drake University. The annual forum is geared towards African-American and Latino voters, and the mayors were discussing salient issues in urban and minority communities. 

Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad Monday opened the door to the possibility of settling Syrian refugees in Iowa if a bill before Congress to tighten screening procedures becomes law.  

The bill would require that the director of the FBI and other top security officials approve all applicants from Syria and Iraq and assure they pose no threat.   

Otherwise, Branstad says letting the refugees in is not safe.

“If instead we're working as a country I'd feel much safer and more willing to do that,” Branstad says. 

Photo by Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

The immigrant workers who pick crops like cotton and melons in the U.S. can have a tough time finding a place to live. The rural areas where they can find work often lack social services and affordable housing. That means many farm worker families end up in dilapidated buildings, which can come with health risks.

Angel Castro's old road is muddy and covered with flooded potholes. He lived here during the 1990s just behind a large John Deere store in Kennett, Mo.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A double-wall fence across the entire southern U.S. border would work to keep immigrants out, and it could be built within one year of a new administration in Washington.  

That’s from Arkansas Governor and now GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, addressing a crowd of about a hundred people at the Westside Breakfast Club at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale.  

Huckabee would model the fence on a double wall in San Diego that reduced the apprehension of immigrants from Tijuana, Mexico. 

Gage Skidmore/flickr

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says legislation to crack down on illegal immigrants is meeting with opposition in the Republican-dominated Judiciary Committee that Grassley chairs in the U.S. Senate.   

As proposed by Grassley, the bill would levy a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for felons who are deported and then return to the country. 

 Grassley says mandatory minimums have become controversial.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum today appeared before the Westside Conservative Breakfast club in Urbandale where he staked out one of the most conservative positions on immigration in the Republican race for president.    

Santorum wants to limit not just illegal immigration but legal entry into the country.    

Santorum says too many people are coming here legally and competing for American jobs.

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