The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Iowa Caucus 2024: Republican candidates’ immigration policies and the potential effects on the Latine community

Quentin Blais
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to his supporters at the rally in Davenport, Iowa on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2024. DeSantis emphasized the importance of policy reform in education during his campaign.

Young Republican voters who gathered at the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15 listed immigration as a top concern among other issues — abortion, climate change and education. 

Despite former President Donald Trump’s win in Monday’s Republican caucus, entrance and exit polls found that most younger caucus-goers supported Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

“I want someone who’s actively listening, who’s willing to have a conversation … someone who isn’t money-driven,” Savannah Sheffler said, a junior studying political science and kinesiology at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. 

Sheffler, a registered Republican, said Generation Z voters seek a candidate who listens to their concerns.

“I definitely think that … money and greed have a very negative impact and I feel like that’s what we’ve had for a while.”

Megan Goldberg, a political science professor from Cornell College, attributes the interest of young voters to Haley’s promise to compromise — giving power to individual states rather than government bodies. DeSantis’ conservative policies garnered 30% of the votes from caucus-goers ages 17 to 29, beating out Haley’s more moderate agenda.

“[Haley] is more moderate than a lot of the other candidates,” Goldberg said. “She’s differentiated herself more on a lot of issues … especially those like abortion, which is one of the most important issues to voters between the ages of 18 and 35. She has proposed conservative policies, but much less conservative.”

Although DeSantis’ Stardust rally in Davenport, Iowa, saw many families with young children, college-age voters were absent from his audience.

Immigration and education were the main topics of discussion due to the policies implemented in his home state of Florida including his bill that criminalized the employment and transportation of undocumented immigrants that was signed into law in May of 2022. 

However, one young Democrat did come to Haley’s rally in Ames, Iowa on Jan. 14.

George Burdick, a junior political science student at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, was one of the many young students who attended Haley’s rally at Jethro’s BBQ in Ames. Burdick, a Kansas resident, traveled over four hours to attend the rally and listen to candidates from the opposing political party.

“Climate change and education: those are … my two larger concerns with her,” Burdick said. “I worry about the direction the Republican Party is going with education in general, especially higher education.”

Burdick favored Haley’s policies on foreign and global affairs, especially her plans to provide weapons for Ukraine, saying Biden has not gone far enough.

“I think she [Haley] would shore up a lot of support and be the tougher America that I think we might need right now,” Burdick said.

But climate policy could be the deal breaker. 

“If she is going to keep her climate stuff, I am going to stick with Biden.”

Polls have shown that Gen Z voters are not excited by a Biden-Trump rematch. Sheffler believes that Haley being a woman might help differentiate her from the pack.

“I definitely think the big drive is that she is a female,” Sheffler said. “We’re kind of tired of having old men run our country.”

[/sidebar]As Republican candidates campaigned ahead of last Monday’s Iowa caucus, many focused on tougher immigration policies in an attempt to win over conservative voters. 

Former President Donald Trump has long made his views on stricter policies known, including completing a wall along the U.S-Mexico border. But other candidates, namely Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, also called for securing the border and for stricter policies that could halt state and city governments from assisting noncitizens, most of whom are part of the Latine community. 

DeSantis said, unlike Trump, he would keep his word on campaign promises. 

“That wall will get built. It’s not just a campaign slogan, it’s something that we actually have to follow through on,”  DeSantis said to a group of supporters in Davenport, Iowa Jan. 13. 

If elected, DeSantis also said he plans to implement strict anti-immigration policies, including banning sanctuary cities and enacting E-Verify nationwide. E-Verify is a web-based system that requires employers to verify the validity of an employee’s work documents. 

While Haley campaigns as the daughter of immigrants and a candidate that can appeal to “minorities,” her proposed policies on immigration mirror those of DeSantis. She too plans a strict implementation of  E-Verify and defunding sanctuary cities. 

If enacted, the candidates’ policies would have a significant impact on the Latine community and immigration as a whole including migrants and asylum seekers, said Megan Goldberg, a professor of political science at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. 

“If we have stricter immigration policies and more ramifications if you are caught doing so, what that probably means is those people and those working in Iowa are just going to be living in a very different state of fear over being caught,” Goldberg said. 

The fear of unemployment or legal ramifications can lead people to sacrifice important services, such as withdrawing their children from school, Goldberg said. 

Haley, like DeSantis, referenced her past efforts to crack down on immigration in South Carolina when she was governor. 

“We passed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country. President Obama sued us over it and we won. We will take what we did in South Carolina and we’ll go national with it,” Haley said during her Jan. 14 speech at the Country Lane Lodge. 

During her time as governor, Haley signed a bill requiring police officers to check any person’s immigration status if suspected of entering the country illegally. She said that if elected, she would implement the Remain in Mexico policy which prevents migrants, including asylum seekers, from entering the U.S. forcing them to remain in Mexico to await immigration proceedings, “so that no one even steps foot on U.S. soil, and instead of catch and release, we will go to catch and deport.” 

“This doesn’t even look like the United States of America anymore. Eight million illegal immigrants have come to that border,” Haley said. 

While some voters agree with DeSantis and Haley, others don’t. 

George Burdick, a student at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, studying political science, traveled to Iowa to observe the caucus and candidates in action before voting in his home state. 

Burdick, a Democrat who wanted to hear more from Haley, liked her plan to implement E-Verify nationwide but feels that it may not be the most practical solution. 

“I worry about the exploitation … of people who are coming in here and doing the best they can are facing, because corporations are taking advantage of it,” Burdick said.

Benson Fang, a student from Cornell College studying political science, was in Iowa caucusing for candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. He expressed concern over the strict immigration policies adopted by several presidential candidates, saying it could lead to dangerous working conditions for migrants. Ramaswamy later dropped out of the race, endorsing Trump for the White House.

“I have heard stories of, for example, migrant labor being abused in the meatpacking industry and with Governor (Kim) Reynolds even attempting to pass a child labor law to get children to be allowed to work there,” Fang said.

Fang disagrees with Reynold’s policies, saying that the only way to solve that is through a bipartisan immigration reform “that satisfies both the board of security concerns of one side, as well as the amnesty and even economic concerns of the other side. It’s in the economy’s best interest to create a fair and systemic way to accept new immigrants in this country.”


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