Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds told WHO radio on Thursday that she rejected a request from the federal government to accept migrant children into the state.
Reynolds said that the need to find homes for migrants "is the President’s problem," and that her priority is the health and safety of Iowans. The Governor added that the state does not have the facilities to house the migrant children.
On March 31, Iowa Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia notified the Biden administration that the state would not take unaccompanied minors.
The agency said in a statement, "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. We acknowledge this is an incredibly saddening and difficult situation."
It was revealed in March that the Biden administration was exploring flying migrants flooding the US southern border to processing facilities in northern and coastal states to take the strain off the southern border facilities.
The huge increase in unaccompanied minors, some as young as 3 and many testing positive for the coronavirus, have severely strained border holding facilities which have been exceeding the 72 hour holding rule. The Biden administration has been scrambling to add more facilities and hire staff to care for the children until they can be placed with sponsors in the wake of their rollback of Trump era politices that has fueled the border surge.
On Wednesday, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott announced that he had ordered an investigation after two state agencies received tips alleging that children have been sexually assaulted and neglected at a federal migrant overflow facility in San Antonio. Abbott also called on the Biden administration to close the facility immediately and described the situation at the facility a "health and safety nightmare."
In 2019 Reynolds was one of 30 governors who was willing to accept refugees into the state when then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order giving states the right to refuse to take refugees. At the time, Reynolds said refugees should not be confused with asylum seekers crossing from Mexico who don’t go through a strict vetting process.
In the last month alone, the US Boarder Patrol has picked up almost 19,000 unaccompanied migrant traveling across the Mexican border. It’s the largest monthly number ever recorded by the agency.