Loebsack fields questions on immigration, war, peace
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · January 16, 2008

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack found himself on the defensive when a videographer who had been following him all week accused him of supporting “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

Loebsack (D-Mount Vernon) hosted the last of his week-long “listening tour” meetings Friday at the Hoover Library, and the videographer, who identified herself as “Deb,” attended all of them.

Deb said she took the time to read up on Loebsack’s record the night before the West Branch visit.

“Before Monday, I didn’t know much about your record,” she said, and now she believes he favors “amnesty” and disagrees with building a border fence.

Loebsack bristled at the term Republicans have used to characterize ideas that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in America under certain conditions.

“I’m not for amnesty,” he said. “I favor a path to citizenship.”

Loebsack said he would require illegal immigrants to learn English, among other requirements.

Loebsack, who recently marked his first year in Congress, said he voted for an appropriations bill that included funding for a border fence, but said his vote was for other items funded by the bill.

Loebsack took time at the beginning of the visit to talk about his trip to Iraq, Germany and Kuwait. He said he was interested in learning about the care of soldiers who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

He said that more and more veterans are suffering from PTSD, even from Vietnam and Korea.

“And there are far more troops surviving (war injuries),” but many carry them for the rest of their lives, he said.

Many of the 22 present had things to ask or discuss:

• Claudia Putnum of Letts asked Loebsack to try to overturn a ban on humane horse slaughter. A clerk at a sale barn, she said the law has left the horses with “no value.” “Please vote for small farms in Iowa,” she said. “Instead of banning slaughter, the law banned humane slaughter.”

• Pat Minor of West Branch said that she believes that peace between Israel and Palestine is “the heart of instability in the Middle East.” She believes the United States does not need to forge another peace agreement, but rather to pressure the two sides to abide by the ones already in existence. Loebsack said he believes President Bush has a “hands off” policy in the Middle East. Another woman responded, asking why it should be the United State’s responsibility to “police the whole world.” “We should worry about saving America first,” the woman said. Loebsack said he wants to quit “spending millions in Iraq,” but believes the United States has interests all over the world and needs to be involved at some level.

• Jerry Melick, manager of Liberty Communications, said he wanted to thank Loebsack for supporting the continuation of the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes telephone service to low-income and high-cost areas. He told Loebsack that Liberty plans to upgrade West Branch and West Liberty with a fiber-optic network.

• One man asked whether the Federal Communications Commission was looking further into consolidating the media. “Can congress do anything?” he asked. Loebsack said he did not know, but said he disagreed with it. “I don’t think that’s the right way to go,” he said.

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