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Immigrant Organizations Criticize Gov. Reynolds' Comment

People stand at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas Feb. 2019.
Natalie Krebs
IPR file
U.S. Border Patrol officers keep watch at the fence separating U.S. and Mexico in the town of El Paso, Texas.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ rejection of a federal request to accept migrant children into Iowa has sparked some criticism from a number of advocacy groups in the state.

Reynolds said on a radio talk show this week that Iowa already has a problem placing foster children in homes and the welfare of migrant children is “not our problem,” but rather, President Joe Biden’s.

Kerri True-Funk, the field office director at the Des Moines Office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, said the welfare of migrant children is the whole country’s problem. And the way the governor phrased it could send the wrong message.

“I hope that the governor will, you know, think about the message that is being sent to the people of our state. And so that maybe framing this issue a little bit differently, would be more productive in the conversation," True-Funk said.

True-Funk clarified Iowa does not have enough capacity or resources to house many migrant children, but the state should look at possibly expanding that in the future.

A number of other groups have shared concern about the governor's phrasing including the newly-formed Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice and the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs.

In a statement, the commission said "'Not our problem,' should never be a statement from an elected official when referring to children, mothers, or fathers."

True-Funk added although Iowa does not have an many resources for migrant children as border states, Iowa can and should offer support to those states.

"We want to support neighboring states that may be taking on some of these children," True-Funk said. "We appreciate what the states are doing to help these children, we understand that they are, you know, taking a burden onto their own systems, and that we want our country to have a better capacity to address these ongoing problems."

Migrants coming to the U.S.-Mexico border is not new, nor unpredicted, but the country has seen a record number of migrants taken into custody last month compared to numbers from the past 15 years.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines