It's an issue that strikes a personal note with Claudia Thrane. She holds on to the photos of her family back home in Mexico.
"It's very frustrating, but when I compare my process with other people, I think it was the easiest," Thrane said.
Thrane was finally able to gain citizenship five years after marrying her husband from the United States. She said friends and family haven't been so lucky.
"Everybody says go to the back of the line, well the line is way too big. For many people, it's impossible," Thrane said.
As a Youth Associate with the American Friends Service Committee, she works with young immigrants everyday. She said her work isn't easy.
"I had a client who wanted to go to college and he wasn't able to because he didn't have the proper documentation," Thrane said.
According to the Iowa Policy Project, illegal immigrants in Iowa contribute about 64 million dollars in taxes to the state. Iowa has about 120,000 immigrants, and together they make up about 4.5 percent of Iowa's economic output.
This is something Immigration lawyer, Lori Chesser knows all too well. She represents immigrants and companies trying to hire them.
"It's frustrating because so often we have people we know would be great to stay here and really would add to our quality of life in Iowa and because the law is so inadequate, we can't help," Chesser said.
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