Weekly News Roundup: Reynolds, Set to Sign Anti-Immigrant Bill, Backs Up Trump on Border Troops

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The Informer’s weekly news roundup, presented in partnership with KHOI community radio.

During an event Friday at a Waterloo elementary school, Gov. Kim Reynolds said that Iowa would dispatch National Guard troops to the southern border if the Trump administration asked the state to do so. “We haven’t been asked yet, but yes,” she told a reporter in response to a question about President Trump’s proclamation earlier that week ordering troops to the Mexican border to secure it until the border wall he promised during his campaign was built. Iowa’s two US senators also said they would support sending troops to the border. Chuck Grassley, like Reynolds, noted that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama had sent troops there during their presidencies, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Joni Ernst, a member of the National Guard, said in a statement, “The reality is, the border remains unsecured — meaning that drugs and crime continue to flow into the United States while illegal immigration and human trafficking flourish.” In reality, statistics have shown that immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than citizens born in the United States.

Meanwhile, a controversial bill imposing penalties against so-called sanctuary cities is sitting on Reynolds’ desk as immigration-rights advocates continue to press her to veto the legislation. If she instead signs the bill, the new law would punish cities that attempt to protect undocumented immigrants against federal immigration laws by withholding state funding for those cities. Because it is debatable (and doubtful) that Iowa actually has any cities with such policies, opponents of the sanctuary city legislation have condemned it as a discriminatory attack on immigrants in Iowa that could heighten racial tensions. It is unlikely that Reynolds will veto the bill, as she recently made her support for cracking down on sanctuary cities known as part of a fundraising email for her 2018 campaign for a full term as governor.

Conservative-Backed Media Giants Sinclair, Meredith Vie Over TV Station Acquisitions

As the Informer has previously reported, Iowa television stations owned by the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group have been airing pro-Trump propaganda, including segments by a Russian-born former Trump adviser and a script local anchors were recently forced to read that slams the media for allegedly pushing false and biased news reports. Sinclair owns more local TV stations in the United States than any other company. They include five stations in Iowa, in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Sioux City, as well as a sixth station based in Kirksville, Missouri, that also serves southeastern Iowa.

Sinclair could soon be expanding its presence in the state. The company has been attempting to acquire Tribune Media, which owns the Des Moines NBC affiliate WHO-DT and Moline, Illinois-based WQAD-TV, which broadcasts in the Davenport area. The acquisition plans were announced months ago but are pending FCC approval over antitrust concerns. To seal the deal, Sinclair may end up selling off some of the Tribune Media properties, including WHO-DT. One potential buyer is the Des Moines publishing house Meredith Corp., which recently acquired fellow magazine publishing company Time Inc. in a billion-dollar deal backed to the tune of $650 million by the libertarian-leaning Republican megadonors Charles and David Koch.

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.