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June 15, 2006


This is points toward the red herring in this debate, "Immigrants doing jobs that Ameicans won't take". WRONG!!!

Meatpacking, though a nasty ass job, was at one time a premier job in cattle and farming country. One that provided a comfortable income and would support a middle class family.

But we the citizens allowed the coorporate government to bust the "unions" and hire the lowest wage earners on our continent.

This goes back to the Reagan era and his immigration bill. The one that took all the teeth out of any enforcement.

Robert's isn't an analyst or journalist she's a TV personality, nothing more.

About 20 years ago there was a long, bitter strike in Austin MN. (Info here.)

The union was busted and since then meatpacking has been increasingly non-union, low-paying, Hispanic, and dangerous.

Blaming the immigrants is wrong, but the arrival of the immigrants coincided with a degradation of labor standards.

That's not a map of Iowa, that's a map of much of the Midwest north of the Missouri River (though it is centered on Iowa, and Iowa is where most of the peaks are).

This graph is completely meaningless without more information, as it does not mention scale. Does each spike represent going from 10 Hispanic worker in 1990 to 100 by the year 2000? 100 to 1000?

How does the Hispanic population compare to the local white population? By showing these large spikes, some might be given the false impression that Hispanics were outnumbering whites by huge numbers.

By one estimate, the meat packing industry employed around 150,000 people in 2001, with roughly a quarter of those employees (37,500) being Hispanic. Surely Iowa's share of those workers would be a small fraction of that number, perhaps under 10,000.

Since Bush has been in office, federal enforcement of laws prohibiting the employement of undocumented workers has been eviscerated (under Clinton workplace arrests of undocumented workers was as high at 18,000 a year... under Bush just a few hundred each year. Under Bush, the corporations get absolutely whatever they want. They want cheap, undocumented workers to replace Americans? Check. And then the GOP turns around and pretends they're tough on immigration. That's like having Keith Richards rail against drug use).

I grew up in the area where the peaks are concentrated, SE South Dakota, NW Iowa, SW Minnesota, and my family has friends who travel regularly as snow birds to the McAllen, Texas area, around South Padre. They would tell us stories of how there used to be advertisements in newspapers along the Mexican border for jobs in the Siouxland area (that's what they call that region) in the Meat Packing industry, and shortly thereafter (this would be the early-mid 90's), Mexican immigrants started trickling into the area.

This is just telling me the obvious. :-)

------- but in any case, Roberts, an alleged NPR "analyst," should understand how Iowa has changed before pontificating about its politics.

This is a pretty interesting point. Cokie Roberts is an intelligent and personable generalist. And her underlying point was not entirely off: though she was extrapolating from state data, Nyhan reported that most districts (actually 70% of all districts) have more foreign born residents that Iowa (1).

Still. Roberts (understandably, I think) seems to have neglected a substantial aspect of the story.

Now personally, I don't think that NPR needs to air a retraction. But it might be appropriate to post a clarification on their web page. Furthermore, perhaps the MSM should deepen their ability to add moderated comments to their story.

Neat graph, btw.

There ought to be more spikes in northern Illinois. The Hispanic populations there have grown tremendously over the past decade or more.

The graph is percentage increase, with a minimum starting population of 50 Hispanics in 1990. The reason Northern Illinois doesn't have larger spikes is that there were already lots of hispanics there, so the percentage increase isn't as large even if the raw number of immigrants is significantly larger.

Cokie Roberts is, as so often, breezily asserting something she knows nothing about. Even in the early 1980s, the Quad Cities area had substantial Latino immigrant population. More on the Illinois than on the Iowa side, but enough to bust the stereotype even back then.

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