Gov. Kim Reynolds took a trip down to the US-Mexico border Wednesday to accuse President Joe Biden of being responsible for the surge in migration and not doing enough to handle it.
Reynolds denied her visit was a political stunt and said Biden needed to take responsibility for a situation that has existed for decades, but spiked this year.
“If you think that this is a political stunt then people better wake up because this is what’s coming into our states,” she said during a call with Iowa press.
Reynolds has blamed immigrants for the increased rates of fentanyl and methamphetamine in the state, and used that as justification for getting involved at the border more than 1,000 miles away from Des Moines.
“Joe Biden has done absolutely nothing to confront this self-inflicted crisis,” Reynolds said on the trip.
During the call, Reynolds said the health and safety of Iowans is her first priority. Meanwhile, updated COVID-19 numbers from the state show 6,654 people have died of COVID, over 9,000 have tested positive since Sept. 28 and children younger than 17 continue to test positive for the virus more than any other age group.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn released a statement on Reynolds’ visit.
“Let’s call Governor Reynolds’ trip to the border what it is: nothing more than a political stunt and a distraction from her failed leadership. Governor Reynolds had the opportunity to offer humanitarian help and honor Iowa’s proud tradition of welcoming those seeking a better life, but she chose to say it was ‘not our problem,’” he said.
That refers to Reynolds refusing the federal government’s April request that Iowa accept migrant children.
Reynolds visited the border following more than two dozen Iowa State Patrol personnel being sent to the US-Mexico border this summer for a 16-day period in response to a request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The deployment cost Iowans over $300,000, and Reynolds has floated the idea of doing it again.
Her visit today will cost just $500 from Iowa taxpayers, with the rest paid for a by the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee.
On the call, Reynolds said she spent the day meeting with Border Patrol and touring the area around the Rio Grande River, including a boat tour, where migrants typically cross. She said being there in person gave her a better idea of what’s going on.
Reynolds and nine other Republican governors developed a list of 10 policies that would, in various ways, deter or limit the ability of people to cross the border.
One of those is to reinstate policies like the “remain in Mexico” policy—formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols—that required migrants to stay on the Mexico side of the border while they waited for their asylum hearings.
Republican governors, including @IAGovernor, hold a 12pm news conference near Mexican border in Mission, Texas. The Republican Governors Association has released the 10 policy ideas the governors are proposing to address migrant surge at the border. @WHO13news pic.twitter.com/3WsBQ5oi6i
— Dave Price (@idaveprice) October 6, 2021
In late September Reynolds also joined 25 other Republican governors in requesting a meeting with Biden to talk about the border and discuss their ideas for handling the surge of migrants.
Democratic efforts to reform America’s immigration system have long been blocked, most recently in the Senate when an official said a pathway to citizenship couldn’t be included in the proposed budget bill that includes other Democratic social priorities like expanded Medicare and education opportunities.
Araceli Goode and Patricia Ritchie, the chair and vice-chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Latinx Caucus released a statement on Reynolds’ trip.
“Governor Reynolds and Iowa Republicans continue to use fear to divide us from each other when they know, just like we do, that people who were born here are far more likely to commit crimes than people who immigrate here. This rhetoric is hurtful, dangerous and normalizes hateful attacks against Iowa’s Latinx community.”
The other governors at the border visit included: Greg Abbott (Texas), Doug Ducey (Arizona), Pete Ricketts (Nebraska), Brad Little (Idaho), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Greg Gianforte (Montana), Kevin Stitt (Oklahoma) and Mark Gordon (Wyoming).