June 15, 2007 6:42 AM
Immigration and the heartland
Marshalltown, Iowa, the small city that hosted visits by four presidential candidates in a span of 10 days, is changing. A rapidly-growing Hispanic population has exacerbated tensions in a city that now mirrors the ethnic face of America.
M.E. Sprengelmeyer reports:
During the 1990s, there was a more than ten-fold increase in Marshalltown's Hispanic population. Folks mostly from the states of Michoachán and Guanajuato, Mexico, were drawn by higher-paying jobs at the meat packing plant and the promise of a safe, small-town environment where they could raise their families.
Over the decade, the city's Hispanic population went from 248 to 3,265, helping to make up for a slow, generation-long decline in the city's white population. By the year 2000, Marshalltown had 26,009 residents and almost exactly the same proportion of Hispanic residents as the rest of the United States, 12.6 percent.
Some old-time Iowa residents say immigration is bringing new life to small towns that otherwise would have withered away. But it's also building a political backlash among those who fear crime or poverty, or resent having the face and language of their communities change.
Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Tancredo's long battle to withhold federal emergency services funding from so-called "sanctuary cities" that shelter illegal immigrants, came to fruition in a House vote, reports Chris Barge.
The Littleton Republican's amendment to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill appears to have no language specifically defining a sanctuary city. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has long disputed giving the city that label.
"The issue has come to fruition," Tancredo said by cell phone after the vote. "The people of the country really have spoken. It's a really good indicator of just how much closer to the people the House is than the Senate is."