Iowa State Troopers describe humanitarian crisis at US-Mexico border

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DES MOINES, IOWA — More than two dozen members of the Iowa State Patrol are back in Iowa after spending two weeks on the US-Mexico border to support struggling Texas authorities who are overwhelmed by a surge of migration at border crossings.

Twenty-eight troopers were deployed to the Del Rio-area of Texas from July 9th-22nd. Texas Governor Greg Abbott requested assistance from surrounding states to slow crime in border areas as local officials struggled to control some regions. There has been a historic spike in attempted entry to the US through the Mexico border in 2021. Most of those migrants are attempting legal entry to the US – but with them has come a surge in illegal border crossings, human trafficking and drug smuggling. The Iowa officers served in support roles, alongside Texas officers – giving them backup while on patrols and aiding with humanitarian needs at border crossings.

Among the leaders of the Iowa mission to the border was Captain Mark Miller with the Iowa State Patrol. On Wednesday Miller spoke to the media about the mission. He says the humanitarian need is overwhelming.

“When we first got there we didn’t know what to expect,” said Miller, “What we found is that when we came across the river, when they saw us, they were smiling. When they saw us, they would reach out to us. They would reach their hands to us to pull them out of the river. They felt safe, finally.”

Miller says officers from Iowa and other states opened their hearts and wallets to care for those in need. “Some Florida troopers bought flip flops in case they ran into people who didn’t have shoes when they came across. We saw a lot of generosity in those spots,” said Miller. He says Iowa officers also bought food and diapers for kids in need as well as distributing whatever water they had and any other convenience they could offer to those in need. “I saw officers take little kids and put them in their patrol cars so they could have air conditioning and they could sleep while they were waiting (up to) 14 hours for border patrol to get there,” said Miller.

Iowa officers also came to the aid of an Ethiopian woman who went into labor. An Iowa trooper spotted her in the crowd on the other side of the fence and called in Miller to help – which wasn’t easy. “We went and checked on her and sure enough, she was going into labor,” said Miller, “You have to get the ambulance there and you have to go out on the other side of the fence and bring her in while not letting other people in until its secured.”

Iowa State Troopers were also called upon to assist in criminal investigations and patrols while serving alongside Texas authorities. Iowa officers’ two weeks on the border included:

  • 240 arrests
  • 51 vehicle pursuits
  • $1.7 million in cash seized
  • 18 firearms seized
  • Nearly 1,000 pounds of drugs seized

Authorities weren’t able to give specific details but said Iowa officers were involved in one significant human trafficking investigation.

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