Last week, I excoriated Cokie Roberts for dismissing concern about immigration in Iowa's first Congressional district by saying that "it's this very white area that doesn't really have any immigrants."
As I wrote, the district is actually in about the 25th percentile among House districts nationwide in terms of the number of foreign born citizens, and Iowa as a state saw the 10th fastest growth in the number of foreign born citizens during the 1990s.
My friend and research collaborator Jason Reifler has passed on a really cool graph that fleshes out just how dramatically the demographics of Iowa have changed. The graph, which was developed by Paul Voss at the University of Wisconsin's Applied Population Lab, shows how the state's Hispanic population has spiked around major meatpacking facilities in Iowa:
Given that many of the Latinos taking the dangerous, grueling jobs in meatpacking facilities are likely to be undocumented immigrants, it's not surprising that Iowans are concerned about the issue of illegal immigration. Some of this may be xenophobia; some may be serious concern about policy; but in any case, Roberts, an alleged NPR "analyst," should understand how Iowa has changed before pontificating about its politics.
Update 6/15 3:38 PM EST: I corrected the graph's title per dm's comment below. As far as the comment about the magnitude of changes in population, the Hispanic population of Iowa grew by 156 percent between 1990 and 2000, increasing by almost 50,000 people (PDF). So those spikes matter. Unfortunately, I don't have the scale -- I didn't create the graph.