Iowa State Patrol officers were sent to the U.S.-Mexico border in June. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Public Safety)
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson and Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales called on President Joe Biden to commit more resources to border security during a telephone town hall on Tuesday.
“There have been more illegal immigrants encountered at the southern border in each month — June, July, and August — than the entire population of the city of Cedar Rapids,” Hinson, R-1st District, said on the call to Iowa constituents.
Hinson visited the border with Gonzales in April. She said the situation had gotten “much, much worse” in the weeks since. Gonzales agreed.
“I’m literally on the border every single week,” Gonzales said. “I can tell you, it is as bad as it’s ever been.”
Encounters between border patrol agents and immigrants have increased over the course of 2021. In April, when Hinson visited, there were nearly 179,000 encounters — 70,000 more than there were in April 2019. The most recent monthly data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows there were 209,000 encounters in August of this year, more than three times as many encounters as there were in August 2019.
Hinson and Gonzales called on the Biden administration to allocate more resources to border patrol agents, technology to monitor the border and physical barriers. In a July statement, the White House pledged to make “better use of existing enforcement resources” by investing in technology instead of a border wall.
Hinson also called for Biden to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Hinson is one of several Iowa Republicans to focus to the southern border in recent days. Last week, Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley launched a bill that would prevent people who have been convicted of sexual assault from immigrating, and Gov. Kim Reynolds traveled to Texas to hold a press conference with other Republican governors about the border.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa put out a statement last week emphasizing the importance of immigrants to solving Iowa’s workforce shortages and participating in the state’s economy.
“Not only should we do the right thing to provide refuge to migrants, but immigrant-led households in Iowa pay nearly a billion dollars in federal, state and local taxes each year,” said LULAC Iowa Political Director Joe Henry.
Henry said Reynolds’ trip to the border was “touting messages that produce prejudice over progress.”
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