DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO-TV) — There is now a bipartisan call for investigations from Iowa leaders into an airplane carrying migrant children that landed at the Des Moines International Airport on April 22nd, an incident that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of
Intergovernmental Affairs and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) initially denied, according to Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, and U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, a Third District Democrat from West Des Moines.
The website, The Iowa Standard, first reported the flight that originated in Long Beach, California. The report included this video that The Iowa Standard said that it obtained of the plane at the airport.
Reynolds’ office said that federal authorities originally denied transporting migrant children into Des Moines but then later admitted that it did bring 19 children to the state. Two of the children met with their sponsors in Des Moines, according to Reynolds’ office, while the other 17 children were transported by vehicles to other states to meet with their sponsors.
Reynolds released a letter Thursday that called for a federal investigation that she and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, sent to Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Both Iowa and Tennessee have faced a series of disturbing incidents involving the transport of
unaccompanied children into our states, under the cover of darkness, with no advance
notification,” the letter stated.
“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. 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,” the letter continued.
Axne said in a statement, “The lack of transparency and accountability from our federal immigration officials regarding the April 22 flight from Long Beach to Des Moines is totally unacceptable.”
She continued, “As this new administration tries to rebuild trust and fix our broken immigration system, denying the existence of a taxpayer-funded flight carrying migrant children into our community will only undermine the integrity of that mission, and will unfortunately provide fodder to those who would use this episode only to feed the disinformation and conspiracies related to our current immigration policies.
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.”
While Axne joined Reynolds in calling for an investigating, the Iowa Democratic Party accused the governor of “using a fake crisis.”
IDP Chair Ross Wilburn sent out this statement: “Governor Reynolds does not care about the well-being of migrant children brought into Iowa, she said so herself back in April. She’s only focused on dividing and distracting Iowans from her own record and using a fake crisis to further attacks on our friends and neighbors. Iowa Democrats want to solve the real problems within our own state borders, not play partisan politics that only seek to divide us further.”
In response to that statement, the Republican Party of Iowa communications director Kollin Crompton sent out this: “Wilburn and Iowa Democrats are following the Biden Administration’s playbook of putting their heads in the sand and hoping it all goes away. The crisis at our Southern border is real, no matter what alternative facts Iowa Democrats would like to believe.”