Group "Frustrated" After Call with Sen. Joni Ernst on Immigration

Group "Frustrated" After Call with Sen. Joni Ernst on Immigration
Group "Frustrated" After Call with Sen. Joni Ernst on Immigration

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A group of moms are calling on U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst to take action on the crisis at the United States southern border.

The newly formed group, "Moms Against the Camps," came together after many of them felt "outraged" by recent headlines regarding detention centers at the border.

On Tuesday, more than 50 Iowa moms sat in Ernst's Des Moines office for several hours. They returned to the Federal Building on Wednesday for a phone call with the senator to discuss the treatment of migrants in detention centers.

"They are crimes against humanity. It’s shameful and it’s so upsetting that this is happening in America right now," mother Megan Dake said.

Another woman, Bonnie Brown, said she doesn't feel as though all lawmakers are as empathetic toward children and families at the border as they should be. She and others carried signs that said, "What if it were Libby?" referencing to Ernst's daughter.

"We need to ask her as a mother, would be she happy if her child was locked in a cage?" Brown said.

The phone call lasted about 20 minutes and featured several quick and fiery exchanges between the group and Ernst. By the end of the conversation, both the constituents and the senator said they did not feel as though they were heard.

"I think today was a little frustrating because we feel the urgency and we're not hearing the same thing from Senator Ernst," organizer Bridget Fagan-Reidburn said.

Before the end of the call, the Red Oak Republican said she did not feel as they allowed her speak to her side.

"I am going to go folks because you are not listening," Ernst said.

Many in the group said they were happy the senator took the time to speak with them, but weren't completely satisfied with the outcome. All three of the women said they would like to see Ernst visit the detention centers immediately.

A spokesperson from Ernst's office said in a statement:

"The Senator reiterated her position of opposing the policy of separating families at the border and her support for keeping families together. She pointed to legislation she cosponsored to that end—specifically the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act and the Protect Kids and Parents Act.The Senator also discussed with the group how she will personally be visiting the border in the coming weeks to see what else needs to be done from an on-the-ground perspective."

The group asked Ernst when they could continue this dialogue with her, but it wasn't clear whether or not she would schedule another phone call with them.

Although the group doesn't have any official scheduled follow-ups, Dake said she encourages all of the mothers to come to the Lights for Liberty event on Friday evening at Polk County Jail.