My friend and former colleague, Mark Thompson, may have retired from the State Department Bureau of Counter Terrorism — under pressure from the Obama Administration for his role as a whistle blower on Benghazi and the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens — but he is not sitting in a rocking chair staring at the horizon. Mark and his wife, Jackie, moved back to their Iowa hometown and Mark ran for the Iowa House of Representatives. Mark was inspired to do so because of his disgust at proliferating human trafficking and the accompanying crime and suffering he observed even in rural Iowa.
Despite being told he would fail, Mark led the way in getting a new law passed in his first term that dramatically increases the jail time for human traffickers. It passed unanimously in both legislative chambers in Iowa. Not bad for a rookie Statesman.
Not content with that win, Mark recently led a group of seven Iowa House of Representatives to McAllen, Texas where they spent June 12-14 observing a variety of immigration, customs and law enforcement activities on the border. The cost of the trip was personally paid by each representative. Mark and his legislator colleagues lead by example. No taxpayer junkets for them.
The Iowa Representatives observed border operations in 100 degree+ heat on the Rio Grande, customs inspections, and law enforcement coordination between a variety of agencies and ranchers. They also traveled to the Rio Grande to better understand the details surrounding the thousands of aspiring illegal immigrants who were camped out on the Mexican side waiting to rush into the United States.
Representatives Helena Hayes (Mahaska County), Luana Stoltenberg (Scott County), Steve Bradley (Jones County), Eddie Andrews, (Polk County) Zach Dieken (O’Brien County) and Tom Gerhold (Benton County) accompanied Thompson. Iowa is a destination for many of those illegally crossing the border due to promises of employment by various large industries in the state, such as pig and poultry operations. Due to their immigration status, or lack of, those entering are often subject to human trafficking. Many are minors who often have no parent or proven guardian accompanying them. Iowa schools and volunteers provide many essentials for these children.
Because of the influx of illegal migrants across the border, Texas Governor Abbott ordered Operation Lone Star in March 2021, a joint mission between the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department along the southern border between Texas and Mexico.
Texas is not alone in this effort. Iowa Governor Reynolds authorized the deployment of Department of Public Safety personnel and National Guard Soldiers to Texas in August to help the Texans defend the U.S. border and try to stem the flow of illegal entries. According to the Representatives, the assistance is needed, and Texans are very appreciative.
On a related front, as noted above, Governor Reynolds signed House File 630, which unanimously passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in Iowa. This law significantly increases the punishment for those who participate in or benefit from human trafficking — i.e., those found guilty will now face up to 25 years in prison if the victim is an adult, and upwards to life in prison if the victim is a minor.
The team of legislators will be drafting a report in the coming weeks to tell their constituents what they learned about the threat of human and drug trafficking along the border and further action that the people of Iowa can take to support border states and defeat these threats, which are inflicting suffering and death on the illegals and the citizens of the United States.