Charles Kamasaki author of the book "Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die."
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By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio News

An immigration expert says Iowa plays an important role in future reform efforts. Iowa as a battleground both for presidential and senatorial elections may affect immigration law changes in the coming years.

Iowa may play a larger role in the country’s immigration policies, according immigration researcher Charles Kamasaki. Kamasaki wrote the book Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die.

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In an online webinar with the Iowa League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) State Director and other Latino leaders, Kamasaki said because Iowa is a battleground right now both for presidential and senatorial elections, Iowans may have a larger voice in immigration reform.

“I would say Iowa is a really important state,” Kamasaki said. “I think it’s one of those places where historically, if you had serious opposition from say the legislators in Iowa, it’s a good sign that it’s going to be hard to move something.”

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As an example, Kamasaki listed how Latino religious groups supporting Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley have the power to sway his votes in the U.S. Senate.

“The business community in Iowa I think is potentially one that could make a big difference,” Kamasaki said.

The immigration expert said because Iowa’s Latino population is growing so fast with many working in businesses, it would benefit both business leaders and lawmakers to support immigration law changes for their employees and constituents.

“So I would say that’s one place where no senator or congressperson can afford to ignore,” Kamasaki said.

Before his research into immigration reform, Kamasaki participated in what was then known as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the country at the time. It is now known as UnidosUS, of which Kamasaki is still a member. In his book, Kamasaki studied how the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 impacted the United States all the way to current times.

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