Democratic hopefuls call for immigration reform at Progress Iowa Corn Feed

In light of recent hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives to investigate alleged mistreatment of migrants in detention facilities, 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls called on immigration reform at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Cedar Rapids.

Former+Secretary+of+Housing+and+Urban+Development+Julian+Castro+addresses+crowds+during+Progress+Iowa+Corn+Feed+at+The+Newbo+City+Market+in+Cedar+Rapids+on+July+14%2C+2019.+11+candidates+came+to+speak+with+supporters+and+meet+fans.
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Democratic hopefuls call for immigration reform at Progress Iowa Corn Feed

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro addresses crowds during Progress Iowa Corn Feed at The Newbo City Market in Cedar Rapids on July 14, 2019. 11 candidates came to speak with supporters and meet fans.

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro addresses crowds during Progress Iowa Corn Feed at The Newbo City Market in Cedar Rapids on July 14, 2019. 11 candidates came to speak with supporters and meet fans.

Katie Goodale

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro addresses crowds during Progress Iowa Corn Feed at The Newbo City Market in Cedar Rapids on July 14, 2019. 11 candidates came to speak with supporters and meet fans.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro addresses crowds during Progress Iowa Corn Feed at The Newbo City Market in Cedar Rapids on July 14, 2019. 11 candidates came to speak with supporters and meet fans.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Amid hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic presidential hopefuls condemned the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policies at the fifth-annual Progress Iowa Corn Feed, where 10 Democrats gave speeches.

“Look at the chaos [Trump] has caused,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., referring to family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. “He does this because he wants to create wedges.”

Family separation has been a point of controversy for almost a year, and the House Oversight and Reform Committee held hearings on July 12 to examine alleged abuse of migrants as a result of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. The policy separates children from adults if they are attempting to cross the southern border somewhere that is not a port of entry and places them in separate detention facilities.

Klobuchar, along with author Marianne Williamson, former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Seth Moulton, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, made similar points, saying President Trump’s policies are cruel to migrants and divide the U.S.

Other candidates, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., criticized Trump’s rhetoric of “fear, division, and hate.”

In Castro’s speech, he called for immigration reform “that maintains border security with compassion and common sense.”

Castro was the first candidate among the field of 24 Democrats to unveil a comprehensive immigration plan. plan, released in April, which provides undocumented individuals who are working or raising a family a pathway to citizenship. It also provides a pathway to citizenship for people brought to the U.S. as children, also known as Dreamers.

University of Iowa junior Jocelyn Roof, who studies political science and sociology, said it’s important to her in this election that a candidate talks about immigration reform, specifically with plans that would give undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

She said she liked what Castro had to say about immigration reform during the first Democratic presidential debates in June.

“I think there are lots of undocumented immigrants in our state — probably more than you would think — and they do contribute to our economy in a positive way, and they’re your friends even if you don’t know they’re your friends, especially at our universities,” Roof said.

During Trump’s campaign in 2016, he championed his idea to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and he has since declared a state of emergency at the southern border, saying there is a border security and humanitarian crisis.

Videos that have surfaced on social media show immigrant children and adults held in crowded conditions in fenced-in areas at the detention centers. Trump has falsely claimed that former President Obama had the same policy.

Tom Leffler, who traveled from Johnston, Iowa, to listen to the gathering of candidates, said immigrants are extremely important in expanding labor, especially in Iowa’s rural communities.

“I just think it’s ridiculous the way we’re treating immigrants,” he said. “We need to welcome people and make sure that they have the assistance they require and integrate them as soon as we can.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was scheduled to deliver a speech, but was not at the event because of a canceled flight.

These are the candidates that spoke at the event on July 14:

  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Author Marianne Williamson
  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
  • Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Massacusetts Rep. Seth Moulton
  • Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Colorado former Gov. John Hickenlooper
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