Iowans Rail Against Illegal Immigrants They Rarely See

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The LA Times has an article highlighting something that I noticed when I was on the campaign trail. Iowans hate illegal immigration, even though there are few, if any, illegal immigrants in their towns. In every Republican campaign event I attended, the candidate spoke at length about stopping illegal immigration, drawing some of the strongest applause of the day. Afterwards, Republican voters would speak at length about how the border needs to be enforced and about how unfair it is that immigrants use public services without paying taxes. (Which is wrong.) They would even talk about supporting Tom Tancredo.

And the Democratic voters weren’t that much different. At the Democratic events, the candidates would avoid immigration for the entirety of their speeches and then the first question would always be, “What do you plan on doing about illegal immigration?”

This, despite the fact that Iowa is 97 percent white. The LA Times article collects all sorts of anti-immigrant quotes—”I’m dead set on this: You speak English or you get the heck out of here”—from citizens of 5,000-person town in which fewer than 50 were born outside the U.S.

It’s almost like there is an inverse proportion between how often you see or interact with illegal immigrants in your community and how much you oppose their presence in the country.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest