The murder of Mollie Tibbetts has put the spotlight on illegal immigration and rural America, like my home state of Iowa, where Tibbetts was from and where she was killed. While the conventional wisdom typically puts the onus for this problem on our southern border, one of the worst-kept secrets to most of the country is that rural America is flooded with illegal immigration.
Much has been written and said about this topic, but still missing from the conversation is a firsthand account of this way of life and what it looks like in one particular instance. Which is why for my column today, I’m going to share such an account from one of our CRTV subscribers. I don't have more detail and can't independently verify everything this person told me, but does it surprise anyone who's paying attention? I live in a largely rural state. This lines up with stories I’ve heard, and if I thought there was no chance this is true, I wouldn’t share it.
I grew up on a family dairy farm in a rural area. In 1967, my dad sold our cows because the price of milk was so low that he could not make a living, and it did not make sense to expand. My brother and brother-in-law both worked in the dairy field until recent retirement. My brother owned a small operation, but my brother-in-law worked for a large family farm that has grown into corporate size. He started as a young married man with no high school diploma and worked up to become the facilities manager/crop manager of an operation of 3,000 dairy cows.
Most of their low-level employees are Mexicans. Their Social Security numbers have been run and they all have one. State law doesn't insist on that check and prohibits anything further. Taxes are taken out of their checks, and they all have lots of dependents. They receive a cash envelope with their pay stub, since few have any relationship with a bank.
At tax time, they apply for child tax credit and tax refunds because they have so many dependents, although most of these workers are single young men, living in the numerous farmhouses that came with all the family farms purchased by their employers over the years.
Many of them are good workers, but there is a downside culturally. On Friday evenings, vans filled with young women pull up to the varied houses, and they get out and stay for a while. Drunk driving is a problem in the county. A few years back, one barn had evidence of animal sexual abuse, forcing the management to fire everyone and sell all the cows to close down that facility. My brother-in-law was so sickened he could hardly speak about it without disgust and anger.
The county is also full of welfare clients who are not receiving job training or volunteering to contribute in any way. Never does one of these folks come out looking for work, because welfare pays too well. There are also plenty of high school graduates and dropouts who are not finding work, despite the fact that the farms pay well over minimum wage to start. There is a quite large illegal alien detention center in the county.
The untold story of mass illegal immigration goes beyond the merely economic transaction taking place. This is a cultural, societal, and family cost, too. Because as you can see, we are replacing the local families supporting themselves with these jobs and replenishing the community’s values and new families each generation. And as you can see from this story, or from the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, we’re not always replacing them with the kinds of folks a merit-based and enforced immigration system would be more likely to import.