Iowa: The Home for Immigrants

In 1870 the Iowa Board of Immigration published "Iowa: The Home for Immigrants..." This 96-page guide was printed in English, German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch and included statistics and other information to educate potential immigrants about Iowa climate, land use, transportation, religious denominations, and more. This was not the first or last time people would be drawn to Iowa through migration or immigration.

According to the University of Iowa's Migration is Beautiful, "The first Mexicans to settle in Iowa worked as traqueros who repaired and laid tracks on railroad section gangs, in foundries and factories, and as betabeleros (sugar beet workers). Many families followed a process of step migration, working first in Texas farm fields, Oklahoma coal mines, or Kansas railroad yards before making their way into Iowa. Some came directly to Iowa, recruited by agricultural employers and the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroad companies." This migration occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Iowa's cultural diversity continued to expand, and in 1975 Robert D. Ray opened Iowa's doors to the Tai Dam and again in 1979 to the Vietnamese Boat People. Iowa has since resettled families from Poland, former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Sudan, and other African and Asian countries. Most recently, Iowa will accommodate approximately 700 Afghan evacuees.

Refugees can find assistance through the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, established in 1975 under Governor Ray. Here they can obtain translation and employment help, job skills training, and other services.