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Dear Editor:

On behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), I would like to respond to Gary Endelman's letter to the Editor in your January 2, 2001 newsletter regarding Iowa's immigration initiatives. Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack had proposed creating "immigration enterprise zones" within Iowa, to encourage immigrant settlement in the state. In addition to ideas to improve the integration of immigrants into Iowa communities, the Governor's proposal included the new idea that Iowa gain an exemption from the federal immigration quotas.

Mr. Endelman asserts that AILA opposed this proposal. In fact, AILA supports efforts by state officials like Governor Vilsack, Governor Jim Hunt in North Carolina, Governor Jane Dee Hull in Arizona and other states to support the integration of immigrants into their states, both to encourage diversity and to help alleviate severe labor shortages caused by decreases in native populations in those states. AILA, in fact, has contacted members of congress to discuss these and other initiatives. In addition, as part of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, AILA is working with other national organizations to support the formation of regional affiliated coalitions, including state and local government officials, to discuss immigration initiatives that could help employers of "essential workers."

Governor Vilsack recently announced that he was dropping his "enterprise zone" idea because he did not receive the reception he had hoped from federal Government officials. However, we understand that the Governor is still looking at other options for his state, and we are hopeful that AILA and EWIC can work with him and other like-minded state and local elected officials in constructing a workable immigration solution.


Jeanne Butterfield
Executive Director
American Immigration Lawyers Association