To the editor:
The executive director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association recently wrote a guest opinion about the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the important role that immigrants play in the food service industry in Nebraska and around the United States: "Political candidates are heightening the rhetoric on immigration, but a civil, solutions-oriented conversation is a better way. Leaders from the Midwest are blazing a trail of consensus and the political middle ground. We hope that other regions will follow suit. ... When Congress returns to session after the election, it must dispense with partisan politicking and come together to improve our immigration process. Our restaurant industry, our state and indeed our country need action."
Congressman King has been one of the stalwart right-wing leaders who have attacked fellow Republicans who sought to work across the aisle to support immigration reform. Those vilified by King and others on the far right for their efforts to reform the law include President Bush, former National Republican Party chairman and U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez and even Sen. John McCain.
Steve King began his rants against immigrants in the Iowa Legislature when he promoted and helped pass an English-only law. The irony is that Crawford County, where King lives, is filled with German families who themselves spoke German for two or three generations after arriving in Iowa.
Iowa, and rural Iowa especially, needs a growing youth population and economic development that the Latino and other immigrant families have provided. I was impressed when I returned to Iowa to see the economic vitality of Storm Lake, Denison and Marshalltown when compared with similar communities in the state.
Nov. 10 will mark the fifth anniversary of the Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit in Des Moines. During the Summit's first four years 430 immigrant-owned businesses were established in Iowa. The vast majority of these are small businesses that lead to greater job creation.
There are many parts to a new immigration law that must be addressed, but Steve King and his allies on the far right refuse to recognize the reality of 11 million immigrants who are already here. That attitude completely shuts down any compromise. In contrast, Christie Vilsack, King's opponent in this election, will work across the aisle to address this issue that is so important to future economic vitality in rural Iowa.
Robert T. Anderson
Gig Harbor, Wash.
Editor's note: Bob Anderson is a former lieutenant governor of Iowa. Anderson became involved with immigrant communities when he worked with Gov. Robert Ray's effort to settle Tai Dam refugees in 1975 and later assisted Iraqi refugees in 2008. He led initiatives to recruit international students and developed a nonprofit to link Iowa with the world.