Ernst asks for more details about Iowa State Patrol mission to the border

By: - July 14, 2021 2:13 pm

A U.S. Border Patrol agent questions a driver at a highway checkpoint on August 1, 2018 in West Enfield, Maine. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

The state should share more details about the state trooper mission to the border, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said Wednesday.

“It would be nice to know what they’re engaged in, what agencies they’re working with and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Ernst said on a call with Iowa reporters.

Brendan Conley, communications director for Ernst, said after the call that Ernst “fully supports Governor Reynolds’ leadership” on the mission.

“She appreciates the information that’s been shared so far and looks forward to additional details after their mission is completed,” Conley wrote in an email.

In his press conference shortly after, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said  “the expenditure of public money ought to be public,” but he noted Reynolds had reported in writing the state troopers were going to aid Texas law enforcement, even if the specifics were not released.

Reynolds announced in June that Iowa State Patrol officers would be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to “aid law enforcement and border security.” Sergeant Alex Dinkla, spokesperson for the Iowa State Patrol, said between 25-30 officers would work in Texas for about two weeks. He did not share any details about what the officers would be doing, citing officer safety concerns.

It would be nice to know what they’re engaged in, what agencies they’re working with and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent.

– U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst

On Monday, Reynolds opened up a little more about the mission. She told reporters at a tri-state governors’ meeting that 29 troopers arrived recently in Texas and would stay there for 16 days, a trip funded by Iowa. She did not share details about what the state troopers would do during their stay.

Ernst said she believes Iowans should know the “overall mission” and how the deployment would impact Iowans. 

“I know one of the biggest concerns that we’ve had in the past … is that an uncontrolled border leads to human trafficking, gun trafficking, as well as, predominately in Iowa, drug trafficking, especially methamphetamines,” Ernst said.

Reynolds’s initial news release on the situation cited rising rates in the seizures of methamphetamine and fentanyl as concerns for Iowans, although it remained unclear if the Iowa troopers would deal specifically in drug trafficking.

Grassley said that, ultimately, Reynolds is within her rights as governor to send the state troopers to the border.

“I know from my county meetings that Iowans are concerned about the border crisis,” he said. “And I’m sure that we’re going to have Iowans applauding the governor for sending help down there.”

Perry Beeman contributed to this report.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.