The man in charge of immigration issues for the U-S Department of Homeland Security is visiting Iowa today (Friday). Alfonso Aguilar, the Chief of the Office of Citizenship, says his responsability is to promote the civic integration of immigrants into American civic life. “We find Iowa very interesting, because clearly it’s not the traditional immigrant state,” Aguilar says. “But we see that state and local governments are developing innitatives to integrate immigrants into the community.” Aguilar is meeting with various groups in the state and talked with Radio Iowa during a stop in Des Moines. “Clearly in meeting not only with community groups, but also with employers here in Iowa in places like Marshalltown, they’ve expressed their interest and their need for a work force and they need immigrant workers,” Aquilar says. The federal government wants to help them meet that need for immigrant workers, according to Aquilar. Aguilar says the President admits the current system is broken as there are up to 10-million undocumented aliens in the U-S. He says the President’s proposal for a temporary work visa would help. He says the immigrants are not terrorists, they’re good hard working people who’re here to help our economy. He says the worker visa gives them a chance to come in legally and work temporarily. “This is not amnesty, it is not an imediate path to citizenship or anything like that,” he says. “It’s to allow them to work here because we need them.” The U-S House just passed a bill that would make it tougher for illegal aliens to get a drivers’ license. Aguilar says the White House supports the bill. He says we need to know whose in the country as it’s fundamental to the security of the nation. He says it also shows we need to get the up to 10-million undocumented aliens into the system, so we know they’re here. Aguilar says the U-S Citizen and Immigration Office is making progress in meeting the concerns of Iowans. He says the goal is to eliminate backlogs and processing times to six months. He says in Iowa they’re already ahead — with the elimination of backlogs back to eight months. Aguilar says the system is not perfect yet and they’re still working on it.
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