Iowa Governor, Mayor Differ on Assisting Immigrant Children Caught Along Border

Davenport, Iowa, Mayor Bill Gluba Davenport, Iowa, Mayor Bill Gluba Flickr user pioneer98

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday that the Hawkeye State will not welcome any of the more than 52,000 immigrant children, mostly from Central America, who have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without their parents in droves since last year.

"The first thing we want is to secure the border," Branstad told reporters at his weekly Iowa statehouse news briefing, according to the Des Moines Register. "I do want empathy for these kids, but I do not want to send the signal to send these children to America illegally."

That puts the Republican governor in direct opposition to the mayor of Iowa’s third-largest city, who has expressed interest in coordinating local assistance so the federal government can better deal with the influx of children stuck in overcrowded detention centers along the border. 

Last week, Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba signaled that his city would be willing to help care for the immigrant children and said that he has contacted the White House about creating a temporary facility in or near Davenport, which sits on the Mississippi River and is one of the Quad Cities.

“They’ve got them basically in confinement along the Texas border and in other cities, and it’s probably overwhelming the system, so [the federal government] is looking for help. I think Davenport and the people of Davenport will help,” Gluba, a Democrat, said, according to Des Moines’ WHO-TV.

President Obama has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis.

WATCH: Davenport, Iowa, Mayor Bill Gluba on wanting to help coordiante local assistance for immigrant children caught along the U.S.-Mexico border

Representatives from more than a dozen Quad Cities social-service agencies met in Davenport on Monday to discuss the situation as part of Gluba’s “Caring Cities Campaign,” according to the Quad Cities Times.

In the face of intense opposition to his efforts to assist the immigrant children caught along the border, Gluba stressed that no local funds would be spent.

“I want to make clear this effort is a private initiative of the local services community and myself, not the city of Davenport,” Gluba said, according to the Quad City Times.

As the Register reported, Branstad said that some of his fellow governors have expressed frustration that the federal government hasn’t informed them when the immigrant children have been sent to their states.

Last week in Nebraska, Gov. Dave Heineman complained during a radio talk-show appearance about the lack of information coming from the federal government on the approximately 200 unaccompanied immigrant children that have been relocated to his state, the Omaha World-Herald reported Friday.

“They don’t have the courtesy to tell me who they are, who their sponsor is and how they’re going to be returned,” the Republican governor said on Omaha’s KFAB-AM.

Image by Flickr user pioneer98 via an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.


Get daily news from Route Fifty

Top stories on how innovation is driving smarter government across the country.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec