Opinion | Gov. Kim Reynolds’ immigration policy ignores humanitarian crisis

Reynolds’ lack of understanding of what’s happening at the Southern Border deems her unfit to tackle immigration policy



Gov. Kim Reynolds prepares for the State of the State Address within the house chambers of the Iowa State Capitol Building on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Des Moines. Tuesday marks the second day of the 2021 Iowa legislative session, in which Gov. Reynolds will give her address in the evening.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Editor

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ immigration policy is stemming from a lack of empathy and understanding of the humanitarian crisis happening in Central America and at the southern border.

Recently, Reynolds decided to send troops from the Iowa State Patrol alongside Florida, Nebraska, and Idaho to the border in response to increases in drug smuggling and human trafficking.

The decision comes after rejecting a federal request to accept migrant children into Iowa, with the reasoning that finding homes for them “is the president’s problem.” However, this contrasts her stance in 2019 when she said she would be willing to accept refugees into the state alongside 30 other governors.

So, why is she taking a sudden 180 on her stance? Well, one key difference is that the Trump Administration held office in 2019. With Reynolds’ history of being an avid supporter of the former president, it’s no surprise she decided to stop supporting the commander in chief’s policy once he left office.

Additionally, Reynolds – alongside other Republicans – is finger-pointing at the Biden Administration to blame him for the border crisis. They are creating a false narrative by spitting out numbers and making stereotypes but blatantly ignoring the context around them.

First, there’s no clear evidence that Biden’s policies have been causing the increase in border crossings. According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, data suggests that undocumented immigration comes in seasonally, with a rise in numbers typically occurring between January and February.

In 2021, there was a 28 percent increase in migrant apprehensions between those two months — which is also when Biden took office. But what’s ironic is that Reynolds and her fellow Republicans seem to forget that migrant apprehensions were higher under the Trump administration in 2019, where the Customs and Border Patrol reported a 31 percent increase during the same time period.

Generally, undocumented immigration follows a pattern where there is a regular increase not just between January and February, but also from February to March, March to April, and April to May. After May, there is a significant drop off because the desert becomes too hot and deadly to travel during the hot summer months.

What we’re seeing now is actually just the predictable pattern. Numbers are higher in 2021 because the movement dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Border closings and immigration policies implemented by the Trump administration as Title 42 that removed people who were recently in a country where a communicable disease is present kept immigrants from entering the U.S.

So, in addition to the predictable pattern of immigration increases, 2021 is accounting for people who would’ve crossed during 2020 but couldn’t because of the pandemic, based on this data. This is also in combination with Biden’s reversal on many Trump-era immigration policies, including the Remain in Mexico Policy, which held asylum seekers in Mexico while they were waiting for their stint in U.S. immigration court.

What Reynolds also needs to realize is that the crisis is not at the border, and the reasoning behind these crossings isn’t just for drug smuggling.  The crisis starts in Central America where many families are desperate for an escape from the violence in their communities caused by drug cartels and gangs. So, before even tackling immigration policy, she needs to understand why immigration is happening in the first place.

Instead, Reynolds is turning a humanitarian crisis into an opportunity to throw political punches at Biden in whatever capacity she can.

Before Reynolds continues to address immigration, she needs to understand the logistics behind it first. Until then, she needs to keep her hands off policies that place blame on Biden, and stop ignoring the context and reasoning behind what’s happening at the border.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.