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Iowa governor questions lack of notice on migrant children flights to Des Moines

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The Hill
The Hill
 13 days ago
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) sent a letter of complaint to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday over not being notified of migrant children being flown into the Des Moines airport as part of an effort to reunite them with their families.

In her letter, which was also signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), Reynolds requested a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on immigration that would address the Biden administration's failure to notify her of the incoming flight, Reuters reports.

Flights like the one Reynolds complained about in her letter have occurred multiple times in the past under both the Trump and Obama administrations, Reuters notes.

However, Pat Garrett, a spokesperson for Reynolds, claims this flight was different because it occurred at night and because a federal agency had originally denied organizing it.

Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne (D) also joined Reynolds in complaining over the lack of information she was provided when she asked multiple federal agencies about the flights, Reuters notes.

Axne said in a statement: “I join Governor Reynolds in demanding further investigation and disclosure from HHS to determine why this flight was kept secret and why its existence was denied to both the public and to the public officials seeking to learn the whole truth."

The Iowa governor claimed that lack of notice forced law enforcement agents to investigate if the flight was “a criminal act of human trafficking or the federally-sponsored transport of vulnerable children.”

After the children landed in Des Moines, most of them were bussed to nearby airports in cities including Kansas City, Chicago and Detroit. Two were met by their sponsors at the Des Moines airport.

The travel was arranged by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Reuters reports.

“Their parents and relatives are located across the United States, and contractors use various transportation modes to unite unaccompanied children with their families," the ORR said in a statement to Reuters. "These modes include air and ground transportation options, taking into account child safety and wellness, travel time, and cost-effectiveness. This travel may consist of flights originating from various locations with stops/layovers in different airports.”

Reynolds also claimed that President Biden 's “failed policies have incentivized the largest surge in illegal crossings in 20 years, including the largest monthly number of unaccompanied children in history.”

Reuters notes that Reynolds rejected a request from the federal government for Iowa to help with the migrant children, saying at the time that finding homes for them was “the president’s problem.”

However, this stands in stark contrast to her position when former President Trump was in office, joining over 30 other U.S. governors who said they would accept refugees into their state.

In a statement to Reuters, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn accused Reynolds of being “only focused on dividing and distracting Iowans from her own record and using a fake crisis to further attacks on our friends and neighbors.”

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