Immigration Debate Has Impact on Siouxland

On Tuesday, federal health officials confirmed nearly 150 illegal immigrant children have been brought to Iowa this year to live with sponsors. While many Iowans are split over whether to house the children in the U.S., we spoke with one man who has signed up with 1,000 Kids for Iowa to help children looking for a better life in America. "When children are fleeing for their lives, you find a way to help and that's all there is to it," said Dan Anderson, a professor at Western Iowa Tech. Anderson and his wife, reverend Martha Anderson, have been looking for a way to help after hearing that more than 52,000 children were crossing the border hoping, not just for a better life, but a chance to stay alive. "The fact that parents down there are willing to risk their kids making the long journey, it tells me that it's a pretty desperate situation. For a lot of those kids, it really is a life or death situation," he said. Anderson is a member of Trimble United Methodist Church in Sioux City. Anderson says he has met many families from Guatemala at his church, and says they are a tight-knit group with strong family values. People like Miriam Carrillo and her daughter, 8-year-old Josephine. Carrillo escaped Guatemala 10 years ago after going to school to be a lawyer and working for the government. She says Guatemala is too dangerous to go back to, especially for women and children. "We had to come to the United States to seek political asylum," she said. "My husband was deported to Guatemala he is hiding because it is too dangerous for him to be there. My husband's father was killed a short time ago..." Carrillo is currently working through the legal process of becoming a U.S. citizen. She says she and her daughter are both wanting to go to law school someday, something that may never be a possibility unless an immigration attorney can help her resolve her political asylum case. The Carrillos are just one of thousands of families who are looking to attain the American dream. And as the immigration debate heats up again, Iowans are weighing in as well. Governor Terry Branstad said he will not agree to housing any of the children in Iowa who have crossed the border illegally. But out of Des Moines, 1,000 Kids for Iowa is taking names of those willing to sponsor or foster children in their homes. Spokeswoman Jessica Brackett said they are also looking for donations of any kind that would help. "At this point, they aren't releasing children at all, but we really believe in the philosophy that if you build it, they will come," Brackett said. "If we have the resources here and were waiting and people willing to use their own personal resources, for these children, then why not? Why wouldn't they send these children to safe and comfortable homes?" For the Andersons, helping the children is part of their faith. He said most American ancestors come from another country in the first place. "This is a chance for us as Americans to show what we're really all about. We are a melting pot. We're generous people and we care about kids," he said.