What Happens When the Economy of an Iowa Town is Powered by Workers that Trump Wants to Deport?


Ryan Lizza‘s recent piece on Iowa dairy farmers, immigration, and Devin Nunes‘s family is riveting.  A few key points:

  • The Nunes family farm is not located in California.  The family moved it to northwest Iowa over a decade ago.
  • The Nunes family farm relies heavily on undocumented immigrants.  Without these immigrants the farm would fold.  They are scared to death of ICE.
  • The Nunes family farm is located in Rep. Steve King‘s district, one of the most anti-immigrant, pro-Trump districts in America.
  • When the Nunes family learned that Lizza was in town and was working on a piece that exposed these contradictions, they stalked him.

Here is a taste:

There is massive political hypocrisy at the center of this: Trump’s and King’s rural-farm supporters embrace anti-immigrant politicians while employing undocumented immigrants. The greatest threat to Iowa dairy farmers, of course, is not the press. It’s Donald Trump.

But that’s not how the Nunes family apparently saw it. On my third day in Sibley, I became used to the cars tailing me. In the morning, I was followed by the redhead in the muddy white Yukon. In the afternoon, there was a shift change and I was followed by a different, later-model white Yukon. I stuck a GoPro on my dashboard and left it running whenever I parked my car. When I reviewed the videos, one of the two Yukons could always be seen slowly circling as I ate lunch or interviewed someone.

There was no doubt about why I was being followed. According to two sources with firsthand knowledge, NuStar did indeed rely, at least in part, on undocumented labor. One source, who was deeply connected in the local Hispanic community, had personally sent undocumented workers to Anthony Nunes Jr.’s farm for jobs. “I’ve been there and bring illegal people,” the source said, asserting that the farm was aware of their status. “People come here and ask for work, so I send them over there.” When I asked how many people working at dairies in the area are documented citizens, the source laughed. “To be honest? None. One percent, maybe.”

Read the entire piece here.  It is worth your time.

4 thoughts on “What Happens When the Economy of an Iowa Town is Powered by Workers that Trump Wants to Deport?

  1. The unemployment rate is very low in this area as stated in the article. Jobs such a milking cows and slaughtering hogs and cattle is considered beneath the dignity of the non immigrant community. They can find better jobs elsewhere in the community. The “whole economy” of the town is not powered solely by those Trump wants to deport, but these immigrants are quite important to dairy farms and slaughter plants. In fact they wouldn’t survive without them.


  2. It’s highly unlikely the town is ‘powered’ by illegal aliens or that the illegal aliens working there have esoteric skills which are difficult to replace. What happens is that the illegal aliens are deported and the enterprises hire new workers after adjusting their wage scale. There will be some substitution of capital for labor, some improvements in joint-factor productivity, some redeployment of resources, some recission of production of the original commodity mix. This isn’t that difficult.

    If you were smart, you’d take Ryan Lizza with a grain of salt. But you don’t want to do that.


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