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

Young Republican voters in Iowa caucuses listed immigration, abortion, climate change, and education as top concerns. They seek candidates who listen.

Young Republican voters gathered at the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15 and listed immigration as a top concern among other issues such as 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.

Savannah Sheffler, a junior studying political science and kinesiology at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, expressed her desire for a candidate who is actively listening and willing to have a conversation, and who isn't money-driven. She believes that money and greed have a very negative impact and that a change is needed.

Megan Goldberg, a political science professor from Cornell College, attributes the interest of young voters to Haley's promise to compromise and give 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.

While DeSantis' 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.

One young Democrat, George Burdick, a junior political science student at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, attended Haley's rally in Ames, Iowa on Jan. 14. 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. However, he expressed concern about the direction the Republican Party is going with education, especially higher education.

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. She expressed that young voters are tired of having old men run the country.

As Republican candidates campaigned ahead of last Monday's Iowa caucus, many focused on tougher immigration policies. 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. If elected, DeSantis also said he plans to implement strict anti-immigration policies, including banning sanctuary cities and enacting E-Verify nationwide.

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.

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

George Burdick, a student at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, 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.

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.

In conclusion, the Iowa caucuses highlighted the importance of immigration policies for young voters, with candidates such as DeSantis and Haley advocating for stricter measures, while concerns were raised about the potential impact on migrant communities and the need for practical solutions.

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