Civil conversation can go a long way—that's what we saw in a small discussion on immigration reform with Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA), a DREAMer, a Republican activist and local community leaders in Des Moines, Iowa. OFA supporters requested a meeting with the Congressman as a part of Action August to urge him to support comprehensive immigration reform and encourage him to use respectful language when discussing the issue, specifically regarding DREAMers.
Each participant brought a unique perspective on why we need to reform our broken immigration system. Lupita Ibarra, a DREAMer, explained how her desire to further her education is hindered by her lack of documentation. Mark White, a local entrepreneur and GOP activist, talked about the business shortage for highly skilled workers and how it can be fixed through immigration reform.
Congressman Latham acknowledged the political obstacles he faces in reaching consensus among many competing interests, but made it clear he finds Congressman Steve King's recent comments counterproductive to having a civil dialogue. He agreed that the current system is broken, and that there is common ground between the two sides—consensus is attainable, but it will require compromise. In the end, everyone at the meeting committed to avoid harmful rhetoric in order to promote our mutual desire to fix the immigration system.
This meeting proved that Iowans of diverse political, social and economic backgrounds can reach a consensus through a civil, intelligent and thoughtful discussion. That is worth celebrating.