Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that she will travel to the US-Mexico border in Texas on Wednesday, joining other Republican governors “to witness firsthand the crisis playing out.”
Travel expenses courtesy of us, Iowa’s taxpayers.
This is the latest political stunt that our governor and her counterparts have created to satisfy their base. During the summer, Reynolds sent 28 Iowa State Patrol staffers to the border after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested help with the growing migrant crisis. That trip cost a little more than $300,000, another bill paid by Iowans.
Reynolds and others can say what they will about this focus on the border, but it’s clear what the real intentions are: to constantly stoke fear and controversy about immigrants coming to our country.
Over time, I have lost my belief that our leaders—especially our governor—would always do the right thing; the humane thing for Iowans and those new to our state.
I also began to lose faith in conservatives who claim to be children of Christ yet are filled with greed and hatred towards immigrants like me. Christianity is defined as the religion based on the life, teachings, and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ showed kindness, compassion, and wisdom, so why not actually follow his lead?
I offer this Biblical passage to Gov. Reynolds and like-minded, self-proclaimed Christians:
“For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.” — Mathew 25:35-36.
Reynolds does not seem to be moved by compassion for those fleeing violence, poverty, and prosecution in their own countries. It seems she is moved by power and politics.
I often wonder if she understands why families make such dangerous journeys. Does she understand where the crisis stems from, and would she do the same for her loved ones if the situations were reversed?
Most immigrants do not leave their own country, family, friends, and all they know because they want to—they leave because they have no other option. They escape because, no matter how hard they work, they cannot feed their children or provide a decent home or education for them.
One may argue we did not create the violence or the narco states that rule some of the countries those immigrants flee. The narco states and the impunity they maintain exist to feed drug addiction in America and other countries. We must face that reality and the fact that the US has longstanding diplomatic relations with many of those corrupt governments.
I would venture to say that Reynolds is not interested in learning from our foreign-relations history, much less than from the stories of immigrants who risked it all to arrive at the southern border.
If the governor and her colleagues traveling to Texas tomorrow claim to follow Christian beliefs, then they skipped another bible chapter: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” — Hebrews 13: 1-2.
Instead, Reynolds has done nothing but fear-monger on immigrants, keeping in line with her leader: Trump. She acknowledges the immigration system is complex, so how does she think a trip to the border will fix it?
Furthermore, it ignores the importance and contributions of immigrants to Iowa as she embarks on such a stunt.
According to the American Immigration Council, immigrant-led households in Iowa paid $859.2 million in federal taxes and $521.8 million in state and local taxes in 2018. Additionally, undocumented immigrants paid an estimated $82.5 million in federal taxes and $58.3 million in state and local taxes in 2018.
I wonder what would happen to agribusiness in Iowa if the industry suddenly lost its immigrant workforce. It would be chaos. Who do you think is working in the meatpacking plants? Iowa is already suffering from a workforce shortage, which I would think would be a priority for the governor.
When it comes to policy, I am not an expert, but I do believe we need to have an immigration system that works for the immigrants and for this country—a humane and comprehensive system. We need immigrants now more than ever.
We also need a tough foreign policy and to stop playing footsie with corrupt governments whose impunity and greed contribute to this crisis.
I gave up on expecting Reynolds to have or show compassion to those who arrive at the southern border, but I do expect her to govern in the best interest of all of us who live in this great state.
Instead, she is traveling more than a thousand miles to score political points. She should redirect her energy at home where we continue to battle the pandemic, workforce shortages, and hospitals filled to capacity, all while only 54% of Iowa’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Once again, our governor has failed the people of Iowa. Sadly, she will continue to do so because her mind is focused on her political career.
By Claudia Thrane