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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Grassley discusses his bipartisan bill that would up the number of legal immigrants at IC townhall

At an Iowa City town hall on Monday, Grassley discussed his bipartisan bill that would increase legal immigration by 50 percent to combat Iowa’s workforce problems.
Isabella Tisdale
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley R-Iowa speaks with community members about local issues at Merge Iowa City on Monday, March 25, 2024.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, discussed his bipartisan legislation, H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, that would increase the number of legal immigrants during an Iowa City town hall on Monday.

Grassley stopped at the co-working space Merge in downtown Iowa City to speak with members of Greater Iowa City Inc. as part of his 44th 99-county tour. Members asked Grassley about legal immigration as a solution to Iowa’s workforce problems.

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Grassley said he is in no position to tell the Iowa Legislature what to do and immigration is a federal issue.

“If the president is doing his job of enforcing the law, states like Texas and Iowa wouldn’t have to pass several laws,” Grassley said. “I think immigration is one of the 18 powers specifically given to the Congress, the United States under the Constitution, so basically, it ought to be a federal issue.”

Grassley said he introduced a bipartisan proposal with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, that looks to increase legal immigration to combat workforce issues. Grassley said the bill could increase legal immigration by 50 percent. Grassley also emphasized the importance of including “integrity provisions” within the bill, that would prevent jobs from going to immigrants over American citizens.

At the roundtable conversation and Q&A, Grassley said legal immigration needs to be reformed, which is possible if lawmakers can “get away from the extremes of the immigration issues.”

Grassley’s comments come as federal lawmakers ponder solutions to a record number of border crossings that Republicans have blamed on President Joe Biden. Democrats have said reforms to the immigration system are needed.

RELATED: Iowa’s federal lawmakers respond to President Biden’s State of The Union

Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package last month. Republicans previously demanded that border security be added to a bill regarding foreign aid to Ukraine, but then rejected the legislation after pressure from former president Donald Trump.

Grassley said, in a Feb. 7 news release, he opposed the deal because of “gaping loopholes, poor border enforcement mechanisms, and a lack of accountability” in the deal.

Grassley also supported a separate bill that included aid to Ukraine and Israel, but the bill wasn’t taken up in the house.

While federal lawmakers and Biden have been at a stalemate on a solution, some states have taken matters into their own hands.

Both Iowa and Texas have passed laws that allow the state to enforce immigration laws by making illegal re-entry a state crime and allowing the state to remove an undocumented migrant to a port of entry by order of a state judge.

The Texas law was allowed to stand after the U.S. Supreme Court decided the law was constitutional under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which delegates powers not explicitly granted to Congress in the Constitution. A federal appeals court later decided to let a previous injunction on the law stand.

Grassley said he can understand why Texas passed the law and why other states are following behind.

Liam Halawith contributed to this report.

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About the Contributors
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.