Governor signs bill on sanctuary jurisdictions

The last few years has seen a debate arise about how much cooperation local governments should have with federal officials enforcing immigration law.

Some cities limit their cooperation with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in its effort to detain and deport undocumented immigrants. These are known as ?sanctuary cities.? According to CBS News, there are more than 140 sanctuary jurisdictions - cities and counties - in the United States, including cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and others.


County level

Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton issued a news release informing the public that the county has not been nor is presently a ?sanctuary county.?

?As the sheriff of Jefferson County, I can tell you that we have had a good working relationship with the local ICE agents,? he said. ?We have only had to occasionally contact them on the status of an individual. This interaction has taken place because the individual is incarcerated in the Jefferson County Jail. Once they are incarcerated and determined to be an undocumented individual, we call the ICE officials in Cedar Rapids and a process begins. The biggest concern that we have at the local level on immigration is keeping our citizens safe and also treating everyone with respect.?


State level

The Iowa Legislature has taken up the issue of sanctuary jurisdictions. On Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law Senate File 481, which requires law enforcement agencies to comply with federal immigration detainer requests for people in their custody under policies to be in effect by Jan. 1.

In addition, the legislation prohibits local governments from discouraging their enforcement officers or others from activities related to enforcing immigration laws.

The legislation requires local governments in Iowa to comply with federal detainer requests, prohibits them from adopting policies that discourage immigration enforcement activities and bars discriminatory practices.

It creates a sanction whereby offending local entities could be denied state funds for up to 90 days for violating the law?s provisions. That would apply to road-use tax funds, state property tax replacements, tuition replacement, flood mitigation projects, community college funding, Iowa Economic Development Authority grants and other state funds.

Rep. Steve Holt (R-Denison) said the purpose of the law is to provide ?safety to our communities,? enforce the rule of law, and ensure ?the traditional cooperation that has existed between state, local and federal authorities continues.?

After the governor signed the bill, Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa legal director, issued a statement saying her organization views the law as unconstitutional.

?Let?s be clear. It violates a person?s constitutional rights for Iowa law enforcement to hold them without a warrant or probable cause of a crime,? Bettis said in a statement. ?But that is what ICE detainer requests ask Iowa law enforcement to do. That?s because ICE ?detainer requests? are exactly that: an ask of local law enforcement to hold a person without a warrant or probable cause. As a result of this, we are deeply concerned about the passage of SF 481 and will strive to defend the constitutional rights of Iowans against unlawful detentions.?

American Friends Service Committee Iowa Director Erica Johnson said, ?This law does not reflect Iowa values, and we will continue to defend each other because we believe that we all belong. Everyone sill has rights, and we will continue to fight for everyone?s rights.?