Gov. Reynolds criticizes Biden border policies during Texas visit

By: - October 6, 2021 6:57 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds joined a group of fellow Republican governors to recommend changes to federal border policy. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Kim Reynolds Twitter)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and several other GOP governors met in Texas on Wednesday to discuss immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and call for changes to federal immigration policy.

“Joe Biden has done absolutely nothing to confront this self-inflicted crisis,” Reynolds told Texas reporters, referring to rising rates of illegal border crossings.

The governors unveiled 10 suggestions for federal policy, including deporting all undocumented immigrants who commit crimes — not just those individuals who threaten public safety — and sending more law enforcement officers to the border.

At a press conference with the other governors, and later in a call to Iowa reporters, Reynolds excoriated Biden’s border policy and said the president had not contacted Republican governors about the meeting they requested with him just over two weeks ago.

“The president has a constitutional responsibility to protect the border and to protect Americans, and he is not doing that,” she said. “So if he doesn’t step up and do what he needs to do, then we’re going to have to step up and do what we need to do.”

Iowa has previously sent law enforcement officers to aid in border patrols in Texas. In an Iowa-funded mission this summer, 28 Iowa State Patrol officers were stationed in the Del Rio area of Texas. 

Reynolds said Wednesday that she would “continue to evaluate” whether another mission was necessary.

Rep. Ross Wilburn, the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in a statement that Reynolds’s trip to the border was “a political stunt and a distraction from her failed leadership.”

Reynolds objected to the notion that her trip was a “stunt,” telling Iowa reporters that Iowa was impacted by drug trafficking at the border, among other immigration issues. 

“If you think this is a political act, then people better wake up,” she said. “Because this is what’s coming across our borders, this is what’s coming into our state.”

Wilburn and the Iowa Democratic Party Latinx Caucus also criticized Reynolds for her refusal to take in migrants. In April, Reynolds said that Iowa declined to accept migrant children because the state did not have the capacity to do so.

“No matter who you are, what you look like, or how you got here, we’re all Iowans at the end of the day and we should embrace a roadmap to citizenship for our friends and neighbors,” said Latinx caucus leaders Araceli Goode and Patricia Ritchie in a statement. They said Iowa Republicans are furthering hurtful and dangerous rhetoric about Iowa’s Latinx community.

Reynolds said that the U.S. was “very welcoming” to immigrants, but emphasized the importance of following the law.

When asked what Iowa could do to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, Reynolds repeated the ways in which the Biden administration could change federal policies.

Ernst introduces bill to deport sexual predators

Meanwhile in D.C., Sen. Joni Ernst introduced a bill that would “modernize” the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 to explicitly prohibit people with sexual assault convictions from immigrating to the U.S.

“Predatory sexual violence cannot continue to go unchecked in our immigration system,” she said. “We need to make a change.”

Current immigration law does specify that people seeking residence in the U.S. may be deported if they were previously convicted of a “crime of moral turpitude” — a vague category that can include crimes like rape, abuse or assault.

Ernst said there was “no hard data” on how many people convicted of sex crimes have immigrated to the U.S., but she pointed to isolated incidents of sexual violence among some recent arrivals.

“Because of these recent examples that were brought to our attention, I decided it was time to act,” she said.

The IDP Latinx Caucus noted that immigrants are statistically less likely to commit crimes than citizens born in the U.S.. A 2020 Texas study found that citizens were twice as likely to be arrested for violent crimes than undocumented immigrants.

Ernst’s legislation has several Republican co-sponsors, including Sen. Chuck Grassley. He also held a call with reporters Wednesday to discuss the “ongoing crisis at our southern border.”

“The federal government’s not doing its job,” he said. “And because the federal government’s not doing their job, there is cost to all 50 states, and there’s no way I can quantify it.”

Currently, there are no Democrats co-sponsoring Ernst’s proposal.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie 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.