Iowa Dreamers and allies advocate for comprehensive immigration reform at a May town hall meeting in Boone, Iowa hosted by Senator Charles Grassley. From left: Antonia Rivera, Sandra Sanchez, Jan Flora, Hector Salamanca and Tess Boylan.Photo: AFSC
By Hector Salamanca, AFSC Iowa Latino Youth Organizer Intern
I went to a recent town hall meeting in Boone, Iowa for a reason, and that was to ask Senator Chuck Grassley what his views were on the current Immigration bill. I was completely unprepared for what awaited me at the town hall and whether or not it was going to be a tough crowd or a supportive crowd that cared about immigration reform.
I drove with my girlfriend and Antonia, another Dreamer, all the way to Boone from Des Moines so we could show Senator Grassley that members of the younger immigrant community did not appreciate his recent anti-immigrant comments and that we would actually ask him tough questions.
When we got to the town hall meeting, I was not expecting Senator Grassley to avoid calling on individuals who were on the opposite side of the political spectrum, but he did just that. I sat right in front of him as he chose whom to call on – one by one, the arms went down until my arm was the only one in the air.
At that moment we made eye contact and I stood up, introducing who I was and asking him why he did not support the immigration reform bill. I could feel my own nervousness as I watched him search for an answer and I eagerly waited for his response.
He danced around the question but told me that he needed to read the entire bill before he could answer my question. While he may not have given me a straight answer, I was impressed by how he respectfully answered my question and treated me as a human being and how he encouraged those who were present at the town hall to engage their elected officials.
This was a great experience, and I hope more young Latinos meet with their elected officials and try to get their own questions answered. (For a link to footage of Senator Grassley answering my question, click here.)