Iowa governor rejects plea to house migrant children, says it's "the president’s problem”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds rejected a request from the Biden administration to house unaccompanied minors. As the crisis accelerates on the southern border and the number of unaccompanied minors continues to rise, Biden has made the decision to move the children away from the border and further into the country. Reynolds has a message for Joe Biden – the kids are his problem, not hers.

Her refusal isn’t because she is not compassionate to children in such dire circumstances, it is because she points to the fact that she has nowhere available to house them. And, Iowans receive her top priority in attention.

Reynolds told WHO radio that her priority is the health and safety of Iowans and that the state doesn’t have facilities to house migrant children for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is not our problem,” Reynolds said. “This is the president’s problem. He’s the one that has opened the border, and he needs to be responsible for this and he needs to stop it.”

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia notified the Biden administration on March 31 that the state would not take unaccompanied minors. The story made its way into the press this weekend as other states are called on to ease the overcrowded facilities at the southern border. Biden is flying unaccompanied minors across the country in order to find shelters for them.

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia notified the Biden administration on March 31 that the state would not take unaccompanied minors.

“This is due to limited resources and administrative concerns. We have an obligation to take care of our children first and absent the resources or a clear and comprehensive plan for federal support, we were unable to accommodate the request,” the agency said in a statement. “We acknowledge this is an incredibly saddening and difficult situation.”

During the border crisis in 2019, President Trump, too, asked governors for help in taking refugees. He signed an executive order giving governors the ability to reject requests to house them, which put the governors in the position of having to make public their decisions. Reynolds, along with 29 other governors agreed to take them in at that time. Her statement in 2019 explained that refugees should not be confused with asylum seekers who crossed the border without going through the legal process. Her rejection now sounds like she is responding to the fact that Biden dissolved Trump’s actions to handle the border crisis. Biden brought much of this mess upon himself with his open border policies and promises to not deport unaccompanied minors.

Biden is turning to Governor Whitmer, a supporter, and Michigan to house the children. He is sending young children across the country to the northern part of Michigan. These are not the teenage boys we typically hear of crossing the border in abundance. These are children ages 12 and under.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement will stand up an emergency intake center in Albion, Michigan, to house up to 240 children who are age 12 and under.

“While HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has worked to build up its licensed bed capacity, additional capacity is urgently needed to manage the increasing numbers of [unaccompanied child] referrals from [Customs and Border Protection],” HHS said in a statement issued Friday evening.

A Michigan Republican lawmaker is voicing her opposition to this plan. She, too, blames Biden for bad policy decisions.

“I am appalled,” said Rep. Lisa McClain, a Michigan Republican. “President Biden’s open-border policies are encouraging parents to send their kids into our country alone. It is irresponsible and past time the president gets the situation at the border under control.”

“Mr. President, it was reported your administration was not going to send illegal immigrants north, you have now flip-flopped,” McClain said. “Can you assure us with the Michigan numbers rising that these unaccompanied minors don’t have COVID and that they have already been processed?”

A military base in California is being opened up to house unaccompanied minors, too. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has requested and received approval from the Pentagon to temporarily house unaccompanied children at Camp Roberts, California. Camp Roberts is the third military base to be approved for the purpose of temporarily housing the children. Fort Bliss, Texas and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas are also accepting children. As a reference, it is reported that there are currently more than 13,000 children in HHS custody. There are more than 5,000 children in CBP custody. A piece written by Forbes addresses the lack of information available on Camp Roberts.

Unlike Fort Bliss and Joint Base San Antonio, Camp Roberts is not a highly developed active base with a large garrison and multiple commands. Located in central California, near Paso Robles, the post is operated by the California Army National Guard (CAL GUARD).

The California Military department’s website for the Camp Roberts offers little information on its size, scope or activities though it does note that the post’s “primary mission is to provide areas for training, the vast and unique landscape provides hunters and anglers with an unmatched opportunity for outdoor recreation.”

The lack of information regarding Camp Robert’s facilities and training activity is mirrored in Washington DC where a DoD spokesman referred us back to the California National Guard for basic details.

In response to our request for information CAL GUARD created a “Capabilities Brief” dated April 6. According to the brief, Camp Roberts covers 43,000 acres in total some 33,111 acres of which are dedicated to training.

The Guard did not offer information on what training events take place there but a list of “Tenants & Training Partners” includes active and reserve components from all five service branches as well special operations forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

As the article points out, this base will likely serve the purposes for the Biden administration well – the children will be out of sight and out of mind, which is how the administration is trying to treat the border crisis. The lack of transparency from Biden and his administration is something that becomes more difficult for them to maintain as the crisis continues to grow.