Debate continues over the severity of the migrant situation at the U.S./Mexico border, and advocates for Iowa Latinos say Gov. Kim Reynolds isn’t helping through her recent actions.
Last week, Reynolds announced she’s sending Iowa State Patrol officers to the border to assist with security.
Joe Henry, state political director for the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens, said it’s part of a broader effort to overlook the needs and contributions of the nearly 200,000 immigrants in the Hawkeye State.
Instead, Henry said he feels her approach is meant to grab headlines, rather than engage in helpful policy matters.
“This governor, and others in the Midwest, have been using immigration and the Latino community as a political pinata in order to get votes,” said Henry. “And we’re tired of it.”
Henry also criticized Reynolds for her refusal back in April to house migrant children. He said the explanation that Iowa lacked the resources runs counter to last week’s announcement, in that the state is allocating officers funded by taxpayers.
Reynolds says she’s responding to requests from fellow Republican governors at the border. She sees the situation as a public safety threat that affects all states.
Groups opposed to the action say the governor’s rhetoric doesn’t accurately reflect what’s happening at the moment.
While the border recently saw a 20 year high in crossings of undocumented immigrants, Henry pointed to data showing the number of children at patrol facilities has decreased by 5,000 in the past two months. He warned that misinformation emboldens some people to spread more hate.
“This will cause more hurt and pain on our community,” said Henry. “While at the same time, our community is playing a key part in the economies of many towns, many communities, across the state of Iowa.”
His group fears a return to high-profile incidents – like one from 2019, when an Iowa woman ran over a 14-year-old Latina girl with her car.
Henry added most people arriving at the border are fleeing violence in places like Guatemala and Honduras, and that policymakers need to focus on comprehensive immigration reform to improve the system and help these individuals.