- Associated Press - Monday, April 22, 2019

Des Moines Register. April 17, 2019

Can President Trump please send some asylum seekers to Iowa? We desperately need people

Whether he’s advocating a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border or threatening to completely shut down entries, President Trump is more about theatrics than logistics on immigration policy.

His latest idea: Send undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities - loosely defined as jurisdictions that refrain from cooperating with federal immigration authorities who want city jails to detain people who have not committed serious crimes.

He recently warned via tweet if “Democrats” don’t change immigration laws “Sanctuary Cities must immediately ACT to take care of the illegal immigrants - and this includes Gang Members, Drug dealers, Human Traffickers, and Criminals of all shapes, sizes and kinds.”

Trump seems to think relocating immigrants to these places would be some kind of punishment.

Except many of those flooding the southern border in recent months are bedraggled families from Central America. They are fleeing violence and seeking economic opportunity. They present themselves to border agents with stories of husbands who were murdered and daughters who were raped.

They are looking for a job and a better life.

In fact, they are very much like the Southeast Asian refugees whom former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray helped settle after the Vietnam War. The Republican leader responded to a humanitarian crisis with compassion and practicality.

Can Trump send some of the southern immigrants to Iowa?

Though the United States cannot accept everyone seeking asylum, this state should gladly take some. Our population is aging. Companies cannot find employees to fill positions, particularly in the agriculture industry. We need people.

They are not going to simply appear. And since much of the country is experiencing the same demographic struggle, the people are going to need to come from other countries.

Iowans should be raising our hands to resettle more refugees.

“The crux of the problem is that we don’t have the people here,” the president of a manufacturing company told the Wall Street Journal in a 2018 story about Iowa’s labor plight. The hydraulic truck equipment producer could not find workers it needed for the second shift, resulting in the largest backlog of orders ever.

Employers across Iowa - from restaurants to agricultural operations to biotechnology companies - can tell similar stories about searching for good workers. Many industries compete for the same pool of people, and the pool is too small. That ultimately reduces the quality of employees and hurts business.

Also, this country’s heroin epidemic and the legalization of recreational marijuana in some states has resulted in more and more native job applicants failing employer drug tests. Companies are turning to refugees who pass the screening.

While the president cracks jokes and plays politics with immigration policy, this country needs more workers who buy homes, purchase goods and pay the federal taxes to fund everything from Medicare to Social Security.

If only this president would recognize the humanitarian and economic importance of attracting newcomers, particularly refugees.

Gov. Ray did it in the 1970s.

President Ronald Reagan did it in 1982 with a Christmas Day radio address in which he read a letter a U.S. soldier had written to his parents about rescuing refugees.

“I hope we always have room for one more person, maybe an Afghan or a Pole or someone else looking for a place where he doesn’t have to worry about his family starving or a knock on the door in the night,” wrote the young man.

The Republican president called the letter “a true Christmas story in the best sense.”

Where is that compassionate conservatism now? Where is the economic practicality?

We need it now because immigrants could be a boon to population-short regions, not the penalty Trump seems to think.


Quad City Times. April 17, 2019.

Modern library next step in E.M.’s renaissance

Thanks to the perseverance of community leaders and the generosity of TBK Bank, East Moline residents could be gathering in a new, spacious and modern downtown library next year.

Last week brought the welcome news that the bank’s building at 1523 8th St. is being donated to the East Moline Public Library. It will be renovated and expanded to replace the 84-year-old, 9,500-square-foot library at 740 16th Ave.

The new building will boast 22,000 square feet of space, slightly more than a study commissioned by the library board in 2012 found that the library required to “comfortably” meet community needs. Efforts by the board to raise the money have been hampered by the high cost of new construction.

Funding and siting issues are two of the biggest reasons new libraries rarely spring up quickly. Moline, for example, battled long and hard before a new, modern library replaced a cramped downtown Carnegie Library. Rock Island still hasn’t sorted out where and how to create a more modern and dynamic library system.

For East Moline, the TBK donation was a game-changer. The cost of the new library is estimated at $7.1 million. Thanks to a $2.2 million capital asset fund and the building, which is worth $1.5 million, a majority of that funding is in place. And Laura Long, East Moline Public Library director, said she has every confidence the remaining funds can be raised that will “give us an opportunity to truly be the living room for East Moline.”

The bank’s changing needs and the leadership of local visionaries combined to make that pivotal donation possible.

“We realized that even if we upgraded this building, it would be more than we ever would need to operate in this environment,” said John DeDoncker, president of the Midwest division at TBK Bank and an East Moline native. “The library was announcing the need to build a new library, and it occurred to me that it would be much better to put the hundreds of thousands of dollars of improvements into a new building for us and have the library take this (building) over.”

We salute TBK for its generosity, which represents the latest major Quad-Cities community investment by this engaged corporate Quad-Citizen.

Community leaders also should take a bow. As Long reminded us, “Thanks to the remarkable vision and support of the library board of trustees, we’re in a really strong position to take advantage of this gift by TBK Bank.”

A lot still must happen before a new library opens its doors, of course.

TBK will need to move out. Construction on a new building at 16th Avenue and 7th Street is expected to begin next month and be completed by November, DeDoncker said.

Then there’s the money that still must be raised. Kudos to those who have already given, including the DeDoncker family, which gave a $65,000 personal donation.

We hope such gifts will inspire residents and businesses to make their own donations to give East Moline what Long called a “transformative” library, community center and gathering place.

Its completion also will be another important step in East Moline’s ongoing renaissance.

Great communities have great libraries. Vibrant ones find ways to build them.


Sioux City Journal. April 17, 2019

Another week, another border-related dispute

As we have said many times before in this space, until our “leaders” in Washington, D.C., commit to constructive, bipartisan discussion of comprehensive immigration reform (something more unlikely the deeper into the 2020 election campaign we go), our country will lurch from one related crisis and unconstructive, partisan argument to another. No problem will be solved.

Today, the fight is about whether the Trump administration should or can under the law move immigrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border to so-called “sanctuary” cities.

Instead of studying the idea or offering an alternative solution to this challenge, House Democrats want an investigation of President Trump. Of course they do. Add it to the list.

Therein lies the problem. We hear a lot of “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t” directed by one side at the other in the nation’s capital with respect to the border and illegal immigration, but we hear little to no “we can and we should.”

As for the idea first floated by the Trump administration last week, we have these thoughts:

(asterisk) Isn’t it hypocritical for “sanctuary” supporters to question President Trump’s adherence to law when the definition of “sanctuary” involves thumbing your nose at the law?

(asterisk) We do not reject the Trump administration’s idea for transfer of border detainees outright because we believe by contributing to illegal immigration challenges through embrace of “sanctuary” status, these cities bear some responsibility for responding to the problem of what to do with those men, women and children who have been detained at the border. This responsibility shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of only border cities or border states.

(asterisk) Finally, while we haven’t agreed with every decision or proposal of President Trump on this issue, we do give his administration credit for continuing to focus attention on and give priority to the border and illegal immigration. Congress needs to adopt a similar sense of urgency.

Regardless of how the present dispute over transfer of those detained at the border to “sanctuary” cities ends, it appears the systemic changes necessary to fix the border and illegal immigration for the long term will remain undone and chaos will continue to reign.

After all, it’s much easier for decisionmakers to simply point fingers at one another.


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