Janet Toering, executive director of the Webster City-based group All Cultures Equal, says lifelong Iowa residents can’t fathom the terror that’s striking some of our neighbors.
“We don’t have the capacity to understand what a new administration might mean to some people that are struggling so hard,” Toering says. “They’ve heard things, there’s lots of misinformation and lack of knowledge.” In a worst-case situation, she says hundreds of immigrants in Hamilton County alone could be forced to leave and a mass deportation would have a serious impact on the workforce.
“They’re in our school systems, they follow the rules and laws as best they can and they’re trying to make things happen,” Toering says. “When there’s a change in the administration that has threats to that, it’s not only a threat to them personally but it’s a threat to the companies and the businesses they work with and the communities they live in.”
Toering’s organization is devoted to helping immigrants with job opportunities, learning English and learning how to fit in. She says scripture instructs us to welcome strangers. “It doesn’t matter what country you’re from or if you’re just moving from town to town as a U.S. citizen, we’re strangers if we don’t know each other,” Toering says. “Sometimes it’s hard to meet each other, especially in this world where we’re all on our cell phones rather than meeting and greeting and talking to one another.”
A community discussion is planned at 10 a.m. Saturday at the All Cultures Equal center in Webster City.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)