Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) issued the following statement after learning that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) reportedly confirmed to Senator Grassley that migrant children were flown to Des Moines from Long Beach on April 22.
After seeing reports of the flight in early May, Rep. Axne wrote to both HHS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to demand additional information on the flight. Despite repeated request, neither Rep. Axne nor her office received any information on the flight from HHS, and ICE denied operating any such flight.
“The lack of transparency and accountability from our federal immigration officials regarding the April 22 flight from Long Beach to Des Moines is totally unacceptable.
As a mom, I was disturbed to see reports of a flight transporting unaccompanied children, and more than a month ago I sought clarification from HHS and ICE – but received no confirmation of the flight like the one provided to Senator Grassley a few weeks ago.
As this new administration tries to rebuild trust and fix our broken immigration system, denying the existence of a taxpayer-funded flight carrying migrant children into our community will only undermine the integrity of that mission, and will unfortunately provide fodder to those who would use this episode only to feed the disinformation and conspiracies related to our current immigration policies.
I join Governor Reynolds in demanding further investigation and disclosure from HHS to determine why this flight was kept secret and why its existence was denied to both the public and to the public officials seeking to learn the whole truth.”