Professors Peter Orazem and Joydeep Bhattacharya were among 40 signatories on the Iowa Compact on Immigration, which cites workforce needs and a desire for changes to federal immigration policy. The compact calls for providing ways for documented and undocumented immigrants to work legally in the U.S. while also providing border protection, according to a March 4 story in the Times-Republican.
(Orazem) said cities with manufacturing bases would benefit greatly if the changes called for in the document are made.
“Clearly, Iowa has what amounts to a greater challenge filling positions than most states,” he said. “That’s particularly true in some of the skilled and unskilled labor classifications.”
One key Iowa industry he said relies on immigrant labor is meat-packing. That industry is linked to the state’s high rate of hog production, and JBS in Marshalltown is one example of such an employer.
“It’s efficient to process food close to its source of origin,” Orazem said. “It’s going to be increasingly difficult to staff meat-packing, an industry that is hard work but a traditional employer of immigrant workers, if immigrant labor is being cut short.”