Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference to signify the safe return of 109 Iowa National Guard soldiers and 31 Department of Public Safety (DPS) law enforcement officers from their deployment to the U.S. Southern border as part of Texas’ Operation Lone Star. The Iowa National Guard deployed from Aug. 2 through Sept. 1, 2023, and the DPS deployed from Sept. 1 through Oct. 2, 2023.  

Gov. Reynolds authorized the deployment in May upon an EMAC request from Texas Governor Greg Abbott for assistance from other states. Gov. Reynolds has used approximately $1.93 million from Iowa's American Rescue Plan funding to pay for the mission. 

“The President’s inaction at the border has resulted in catastrophic consequences. In failing to respond to this crisis, he has failed the American people,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “As Governor, I have a responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of Iowans and protecting them at home starts with protecting the border.” 

“The challenges our nation is facing at the border is touching every corner of this state in ways that few understand,” said Commissioner of Iowa Department of Public Safety Stephan Bayens.  

From 2020 through 2022, Iowa has experienced a 500% increase in fentanyl seizures, 100% meth seizures, and a 35% increase in drug-related deaths.  

DPS deployed 20 state troopers, 2 trooper pilots, and 9 special agents from the Division of Criminal Investigation and Division of Narcotics Enforcement. Troopers and agents partnered in two-person teams with the Texas Highway Patrol and Criminal Investigation Division primarily working proactive human smuggling investigations. Officers were directly involved in 40 human smuggling cases, 11 drug trafficking cases, 14 narcotics arrests, 6 weapons arrests, 42 vehicle pursuits, 35 vehicle bail outs, 11 stolen vehicle recoveries, and 491 illegal migrants were turned over to Customs and Border Patrol. 

According to Major General Stephen Osborn, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, Iowa’s soldiers worked alongside the Texas National Guard and federal law enforcement partners to detect and apprehend trans-national criminals and deter illegal migration. “Our soldiers performed static and non-static missions along the border including observation points, prevent/deter/interdict missions, and coordinated searches for illegal migrants hiding and avoiding apprehension,” he said. “As a result, 1,700 illegal migrants were apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol and another 1,241 surrendered.” 

Captain Thang Truong from the 1-113th Calvery Squadron, 2nd Brigade of the Iowa National Guard who was commander of the mission commented that the influx of migrants attempting to cross the border came from various countries including China and Iran. “I’ve personally been deployed overseas three times, but this is a mission I can directly see how we, as the Guard, are making an impact,” he said. “We are proud that we could help stem the flow of migrants across the border to protect Iowans.” 

You can view Gov. Reynolds’ press conference in its entirety here.