DES MOINES, IOWA (June 10, 2021) — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee are joining with Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley’s call to open a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into the crisis on the American southern border. This call for action follows incidents of unaccompanied migrant children being transported into Iowa and Tennessee without any advanced notice or communication with state and local law enforcement.
“We are writing to support your continued calls for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold an oversight hearing regarding the current border crisis,” the governors wrote in their letter to Senator Grassley. “We believe this hearing should also address the Biden Administration’s failure to provide notice and transparency in their movement of unaccompanied migrant children into states.”
Timeline of events in Iowa outlined in the letter:
- On May 2, the State of Iowa became aware of an April 22 flight of unaccompanied minor children landing overnight at the Des Moines International Airport.
- On May 6, the State of Iowa reached out to both DHS and HHS after reviewing surveillance footage showing what appeared to be a plane.
- On May 7, and May 10, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) told State of Iowa officials that it was not an HHS flight.
- On May 10 — and again in writing on May 11 — the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told the State of Iowa that it was not a DHS ICE flight.
- On May 14, Governor Reynolds reached out to Senator Grassley’s office.
- On May 17, ICE told Sen Grassley’s staff it was not involved in the flight.
- On May 21, HHS ORR confirmed to Senator Grassley’s office that it was an ORR flight and ORR ground transportation. According to HHS, 19 children were flown from Long Beach, California, to Des Moines, Iowa, for unification with their sponsors. Two buses were used to transport the children from the airport to various locations to be unified with their sponsors.
“These experiences sow seeds of mistrust in our communities, and work to intentionally subvert the will of the people for a secure border and a clear, lawful immigration process,” the governors wrote in their letter to Sen Grassley. “Additionally, the federal government’s failure to provide advance notification to states places an undue burden on our law enforcement partners to determine whether these types of flights constitute a criminal act of human trafficking or the federally-sponsored transport of vulnerable children.”
Read the governors’ entire letter to Sen Grassley here.