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Advocacy groups call on Latham to influence immigration reform

Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 10:57 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 11:35 a.m. CST

Multiple Iowa labor groups and immigration advocates are calling upon Congressman Tom Latham, R-Iowa, to push for the passage of the Senate Immigration Reform Bill — approved in the Senate in June — in the House of Representatives.

During a conference call with Iowa media representatives Tuesday, Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 said the bill would have “a remarkable and positive impact” on the Iowa economy.

On the call, a report released by The Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan educational institute founded by former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, was cited.

The report stated, providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States will boost the United States economy by a cumulative $832 billion over the next 10 years.

The report states, if S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” is enacted, Iowa will see “significant” economic benefits including:

• $6 billion cumulative increase in gross Iowa Product over 10 years.

• $3.3. billion cumulative increase in the earnings of all Iowa residents over 10 years.

• an increase of 867 additional jobs annually in Iowa.

• an additional $2.8 billion cumulative additional earnings of immigrants in Iowa over the next decade, who will pay an additional $283 million in state and local taxes over this period.

The report also states, over the next 36 years, $1.2 trillion in contributions will be made to the Social Security system. Of $606.4 billion in net contributions made to the Social Security system, 2.4 million American retirees would receive support. The report also cited findings from a Harvard Medical School study that immigrants added a net of $115.2 billion to the Medicare system from 2002 to 2009. In the same time period, U.S. born citizens cost the Medicare system $30.9 billion.

Opponents of the bill claim it would provide “amnesty to undocumented workers.

The Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, of Las Americas United Methodist Faith Community in Des Moines, said, with the exception of Native Americans, everyone in the United States has immigrant ancestry.

“We want to engage people who want to have a serious conversation,” said Alfaro-Santiz.”

When asked why the group of advocates were targeting Latham and not U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Homan said “We believe Congressman Latham is probably the likely representative that would be able to work with the other side and work to get this passed.”

“It’s not just right,” he said. “It’s smart.”

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