Iowans Rail Against Illegal Immigrants They Rarely See


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.