DES MOINES, Iowa -- No matter what President Trump says about building a wall, immigrants here in Iowa say a wall will not stop more immigrants from fleeing desperate situations in search of opportunity.
“I did come in the way people are trying to get here are at this time. I was one of the fortunate ones that were able to make it here, and I did go through the path of becoming a U.S. citizen here in the states,” immigrant and Iowa resident Claudia Morales said.
Morales came to Iowa from Guatemala when she was six years old in 1994. After visiting her relatives later in life, she says she understands why Latino immigrants still continue to come to the United States.
“Everybody is so afraid to go out. They have so many people that just show up dead on the streets because the danger there is real. So then people don’t like that anymore and they try to better themselves and provide their children somewhat of a better life,” Morales said.
Five percent of the people who live in Iowa are immigrants, according to a report from the Hispanic Institute. The report examines just how much immigrants have impacted the state and economy.
“Immigrants rebuild economies, take on work that others may not want to take on and provide billions of dollars of buying power. When we look at the immigrant population here in Iowa, immigrants have $3 billion worth of buying power here in Iowa. When we look at Nevada, it’s over $10 billion. So we need to look at that and realize how much Latinos and immigrants are doing,” LULAC Council 307 President Joe Henry said.
Morales said she is saddened by the hatefulness toward her family and other immigrants that has significantly increased over the last few years.
“Just because you have a different skin color, [it] does not make you a rapist, a murderer or someone that’s here to take your jobs or that are here to threaten you,” Morales said.
She said there are two things she would like others to do whether they support immigrants or not, and that is do research and have a conversation.
“Whether we build one wall or 20 walls, it doesn’t matter. People that are looking for a better place will find a place to come here. That’s never going to go away,” Morales said.
The report also states, “The Latino population here in Iowa continues to grow and is expected to increase to 13 percent of the state's population over the next 30 years.”