DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO-TV) — Never in the past quarter century has an Iowa governor sent state troopers to perform duties in another state under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, an agreement between states and territories to aid others during times of emergency. Governor Kim Reynolds changed that this month but hasn’t disclosed when Iowa law enforcement arrived in Texas, when they will return, how many total members she sent, what duties they will perform to assist with border security and how much the bill will be for Iowa taxpayers.
Republican governors in Iowa, South Dakota, Idaho, Nebraska and Florida have agreed to send their states’ law enforcement to the Mexican border, following a request from the Texas Governor Greg Abbott, also a Republican.
In March, Abbott announced Operation Lone Star, which his office described as an effort “to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas. The Operation integrates DPS with the Texas National Guard and deploys air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to high threat areas to deny Mexican Cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas.”
The rate of arrests if migrants suspected of illegally trying to enter the country is the highest it has been in two decades.
On Monday, Governor Reynolds confirmed that she sent 29 state troopers for 16 days to the Del Rio, Texas area, which is in the southwestern part of that state and one mile from the Rio Grande, the river that flows between the land borders of Texas and Mexico.
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Des Moines-affiliate WHO 13 news requested additional details from the governor’s office and Iowa Department of Public Safety on whether that includes narcotics agents, as well as specifics on the mission and costs associated with her decision to send law enforcement out of state. Spokesperson Pat Garrett responded with this statement:
“There is no dispute about the importance of transparency and accountability. Our office and the Department of Public Safety will continue to share as much information as possible without jeopardizing the mission at the nation’s southern border. More details will be shared once the mission is complete.”
Department of Public Safety spokesperson Debbie McClung sent this statement:
Operation Lone Star is not referenced in the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) for this deployment. For officer safety purposes, the Iowa State Patrol is not releasing mission-specific details including identifying the Troopers who have volunteered to be deployed. That also includes deployment timelines, the number of Troopers deployed, their specific assignments, their working areas or their lodging. The Troopers will be performing general law enforcement duties consistent with their training and experience. However, the size of the deployed team and the short 16-day duration of the deployment will be similar in scope to our commitment to other special assignments, such as RAGBRAI and the Iowa State Fair. We are confident the public safety needs of Iowans will not be compromised by the temporary absence of these deployed Troopers.
Normally through an EMAC, responding states seek reimbursement from the requesting state. Expenses for this mission will not be calculated until it has fully concluded, and discussions regarding payment structures are ongoing. Governor Kim Reynolds is not seeking donations for this deployment, and we presently don’t anticipate using federal funds. To the extent that the State of Iowa needs to cover any deployment expenses, those funds will be allocated from the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s budget.
The Iowa State Patrol has not been deployed outside of the state over the last 24 years since Iowa joined the EMAC.”
U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Republicans from Iowa, said that they support Governor Reynolds’ decision to send state troopers to the border and they also feel that taxpayers should learn what purpose those troopers are serving on their mission.
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Ernst said, “I believe transparency is always the best policy. And so, I would love to know, of course, what our state troopers are doing, the governor’s efforts there. But since our taxpayer dollars are being spent on that…yes, we should have some accountability on what those troopers missions are and how they will be utilized on the border.”
Her spokesman, Brendan Conley, followed up her comments with an emailed statement.
As Senator Ernst stated on the call, she fully supports Governor Reynold’s leadership on this and the mission Iowa State Patrol officers are undertaking to assist with law enforcement activities at the southern border. She appreciates the information that’s been shared so far and looks forward to additional details after their mission is completed.
Senator Grassley said that he doesn’t know the specifics of the troopers’ mission. He said, “it’s up to the governor’s decision” to inform taxpayers of what duties troopers are performing in Texas. Grassley added that the Iowa law enforcement’s contributions will benefit the entire country, not just Texas. “They’re going to be very helpful to whatever the governor of Texas decides are the needs of Texas,” Grassley said.