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UNI professor says illegal alien tragedy could have been prevented<br>

October 16, 2002
Contact: 

Mark Grey, professor of anthropology and director of the New Iowans program, (319) 273-3029
Sarai Beck, executive director, Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa, (515) 255-5905
James O'Connor, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

Earlier this week, Iowa made national news when the bodies of 11 illegal aliens were found in a railcar near Denison. Authorities surmise the individuals were trapped in the car as they tried to come into the country illegally.

Mark Grey, UNI professor of anthropology and director of the New Iowans program, a highly successful effort designed to help Iowans work with immigrant populations, says it will become increasingly important for the state -- and the nation -- to communicate with immigrants and those who want to migrate.

'This tragedy would have been less likely to happen if our nation welcomed immigrants as people first and not just as labor,' said Grey. 'The poverty and desperation that drives so many immigrants to the United States and Iowa, forced these people to risk and ultimately lose their lives. Yet, this tragedy could have been prevented if we had sent a clear message that they are welcomed in our communities rather than forcing them into life-threatening situations.'

Grey and his colleague Anne Woodrick have produced three books about welcoming immigrants to Iowa, one for citizens and community leaders; one for businesses, and one for Christian churches (co-sponsored by Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa). All three are on the Web at: www.bcs.uni.edu/idm/newiowans/