Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Race for '08: Latino influx the talk of Iowa

Immigration has been a hot issue in the Iowa Presidential campaigning.  Why?  One reason is that changing demographics -- particularly the rising Latina/o population -- seen in the Midwest and South, not previously home to many Latina/os.  A Sacramento Bee story analyzes the issue in Iowa:  "Since 1990, the number of Latinos in Iowa has increased from 32,647, which was then 1.2 percent of the state's population, to 112,987, or 3.8 percent of the current population of 2.9 million. Some demographers expect the number to triple again in just over 20 years, increasing to 335,000 by 2030. The trend has pushed illegal immigration into the forefront of presidential politics – at least among Republicans – as Iowa prepares for its first-in-the-nation caucuses on Jan. 3. The topic reverberates through town hall meetings and Republican debates, with candidates scrambling to outdo one another in getting tough on illegal immigrants as they compete for fed-up voters who constitute a broad and vocal chunk of the GOP political base." (emphasis added).  Other states, such as Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have seen similar increases in the latina/o population in the last two decasdes.

Note the interesting "missing link" in the story.  Latina/os have increased as a percentage of the Iowa population.  Thus, increasing concern among the public with "illegal immigration."  But not all -- and far less than a majority of -- Latina/os are undocumented.  (According to the Pew Hispanic Center, about one-quarter of Hispanic adults are undocumented.)   The story again leaves one to wonder whether all the concern with immigration really is a concern with increasing numbers of latina/os in the United States.



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