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UNI's New Iowans program offers assistance to employers and churches<br>

November 17, 2002
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Mark Grey, professor of anthropology and director of the New Iowans program, (319) 273-3029
Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa's New Iowans program today unveiled two new books designed to help Iowans work with immigrant and refugee populations. Two years ago, the program published 'Welcoming New Iowans,' a general guide for communities experiencing an influx of immigrants and refugees. The new books are designed specifically for employers and Christian churches.

'The bottom line is that, for several decades, most rural Iowa communities were homogenous -- they were English-speaking and white,' said Mark Grey, director of the New Iowans program. 'Now you have newcomers who often are not white and who bring new languages and new lifestyles. In many cases, the newcomers have come not in trickles, but in rather large influxes. And there you have the recipe for a number of challenges.'

Grey said the state's meat packing industry is a big draw for immigrants and refugees. 'Of course, they may come for those specific jobs but they slowly and surely filter out to other kinds of employment. This is important as it demonstrates how our economy is increasingly dependent on them.'

Immigration, says Grey, is a workforce and economic development issue. 'A lot of us have looked at demographic trends and we are concerned. Birth rates are down, and the workforce is aging rapidly. And then there's the painful reminder that 40 percent of the state's college graduates leave the state. We believe that immigrants can make up for part of the shortfall.'

'Welcoming New Iowans: A Guide for Christians and Churches,' was co-authored by Anne C. Woodrick, associate professor of anthropology at UNI; and Grey. Grey is the sole author of 'Welcoming New Iowans: A Guide for Manager and Supervisors.'

All of the books can be downloaded at www.bcs.uni.edu/idm/newiowans/. For more information, contact Mark Grey, director of the New Iowans program, (319) 273-6496.