DES MOINES, Iowa — Just days after Governor Terry Branstad said illegal immigrant children at the center of the southern border crisis are not welcome in Iowa, we find out some are already here.
In an e-mail response to our questions about illegal immigrants being placed in Iowa, Kenneth Wolfe with the U.S. Department of Health and Human services wrote: “To clarify, there have been 122 minors discharged from the unaccompanied alien children program and placed with sponsors in Iowa between January 1 and June 30, 2014.”
Wolfe did not respond to an e-mail requesting specific information about where the children were taken, why state leaders were not notified, and what the future plans are for the care of the children.
The governor’s office says no one from the Obama administration is answering their questions.
“Due to the uncertainty and lack of transparency from the Obama administration regarding their immigration crisis at the southern border it did come as a surprise that now they’re saying that in fact there are 122 placements in the state of Iowa,” said Jimmy Centers, a spokesman for the Governor.
According to Senator Chuck Grassley’s office, 139 illegal immigrant children have been sent to Iowa. The governor’s office is trying to figure out exactly how many children are here, where they are staying and where they are from. “We’re concerned about the lack of clarity from the Obama administration.” Centers added, “We’re looking for more information. We’re seeking that information so that we might be able to move forward.”
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie says the children would be welcome here. Cownie says he would be willing to work with the city’s faith based community, healthcare providers, educators and the Latino community to give the children a temporary place to live. “What are the resources in our city that are available to maybe help with that process and give people a shelter and clothing and food and whatever it is that we can do to help people clearly in need,” Cownie said.