DES MOINES, Iowa – The Republican Party of Iowa blasted U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, for her silence over a triple murder committed in her congressional district allegedly by a man who has been deported twice from the United States.

Last week a mother, Rossibeth Flores-Rodriguez, and her two children, Grecia Daniela Alvarado-Flores, 11, and Ever Jose Mejia-Flores, 5, were found murdered by Des Moines Police last Tuesday night after responding to a 911 call. Marvin Oswaldo Esquivel-Lopez, 31, who apparently lived with the family, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Last Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that Esquivel-Lopez, in the United States illegally, he had been deported twice before to Guatemala in 2010 and 2011.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, tweeted that open border policies jeopardize Americans’ safety.

Ernst was criticized by a potential challenger Kimberly Graham who is running for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race.

Ernst’s comments were not racist fearmongering, and she did not demonize all illegal immigrants. Instead, she pointed out one of the many problems with open borders, and repeat offenders after deportation IS a problem. Does that mean all who cross the border will commit murder? Of course not and that is not what she said.

U.S. Senator Grassley had a series of tweets related to the shooting including an announcement that he made an inquiry with the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan:

Grassley’s approach to this tragedy is legitimate.

Those who criticize Ernst and Grassley are typically guilty of jumping in the fray whenever there is a mass shooting, minutes after it happened and often pontificating  before facts are known.

While I think Ernst and Grassley could (and probably should) wait before commenting, even a few days, neither weighed in on this before the information was released about the person in custody which was two days after the murders were discovered.

I am disappointed by the Republican Party of Iowa’s decision to turn this tragedy into a cudgel to attack Axne.

“Silent Cindy’s refusal to work with President Trump on border security has now hit close to home, but she still hasn’t expressed any interest in working to fix the crisis at our border,” Jeff Kaufmann, Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said. “This is weak leadership at best, and her careless attitude is endangering Iowans. For everyone’s safety, Axne should condemn the 2020 Democrats’ radical agenda and put people before politics.”

Kaufmann released a statement after a joint RNC-Iowa GOP press conference on Saturday in Council Bluffs with Michelle Root, the mother of Sarah Root who was killed in a car accident by an illegal immigrant also deported twice.

Again, I’m NOT saying there are not public policy concerns. I support Sarah’s Law, which requires local law enforcement agencies to hold suspects who have ICE detainers. I believe that is sound policy.

That said, I do not think it is appropriate to bash Axne for public silence (we have no idea what she may have said or done privately). Her position on border security is, of course, fair game during an election. However, Axne, particularly in office, is not overly partisan in her remarks and social media, and she doesn’t throw rhetorical bombs unlike some of the other freshman members of Congress.

In fact, in May she did express the need for enhanced border security:

Certainly, her voting record and her ideas about immigration reform are open to critique, but there are two things she has not done from what I have seen since taking office: 1. She has not called for open borders, and 2. she has not jumped at opportunities to politicize mass shootings.

I, for one, am not going to criticize someone for NOT politicizing a tragedy, and from my perspective, Axne has been consistent on that score regardless of the issue involved.

Update: I would also like to point out that former Congressman David Young who is running for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District also has not made a statement about these senseless murders. Obviously, silence does not mean that he’s suddenly in favor of open borders because he’s not, he supports strong border security.

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