Illegal Immigration Would Be Considered A State Crime In Iowa Under Senate Bill

Immigrants line up at a remote US Border Patrol processing center after crossing the US-Mexico border on December 7, 2023, near Lukeville, Arizona.

Law enforcement in Iowa would be able to detain unauthorized immigrants for entering the state, according to legislation that the Iowa Senate passed on Tuesday.

Senate File 2340, adopted 34-16, would make entering or being found in Iowa an aggravated misdemeanor if the person was denied entrance, deported, or expelled from the United States, or if such an order is still pending. According to the bill, people who have been deported from the nation for certain convictions may face felony charges.

If undocumented immigrants are caught in Iowa, state courts have the authority to order their deportation, and law enforcement and state agencies can transport migrants to a port of entry to ensure they leave the country as ordered or face felony charges.

Sen. Janice Weiner, D-Iowa City, questioned the bill’s floor manager, Sen. Jeff Reichman, R-Montrose, about how Iowa law enforcement would transport a person to a port of entry, a practice Reichman claimed would be decided during the rulemaking process.

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Weiner opposed the provision as being either unrealistic or prohibitively expensive. Iowa has only one port of entry, Des Moines International Airport, which provides few foreign flights. Getting someone on a plane is unlikely to guarantee that they will leave the nation, according to Weiner. The alternative option, having law enforcement accompany undocumented individuals directly to the US-Mexico border, would necessitate a “standing unlimited appropriation,” she explained.

“This bill is a political stunt and a false promise that doesn’t contain the needed resources,” Weiner said in a statement. “This is a gotcha bill. But I have good news: there is a solution, colleagues; a difficult bipartisan compromise bill was thrashed out in the United States Senate.”

Weiner urged lawmakers to get in touch with Iowa’s federal congressional delegation to support immigration legislation that Democrats and a number of Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had sponsored but that GOP senators had rejected in February.

Weiner has filed legislation to allow abatement of prosecution in such circumstances if a person is on or eligible for a protected visa under the federal Violence Against Women Act. Undocumented immigrants who have been trafficked may be granted protected visas if they assist law enforcement in apprehending traffickers and abusers, according to federal law.

Weiner claimed that the bill in its current form would remove protection for these groups as well as incentives for victims to cooperate with law enforcement in capturing the “worst actors” in trafficking cases.

Though Reichman cited sections in the bill that ban law enforcement from arresting persons for sexual assault in schools, churches, and health-care or forensic medical examination facilities, Weiner contended that these protections do not protect victims of trafficking. The amendment failed 17-33.

In his final remarks, Reichman stated that President Joe Biden took an oath to guard and defend the United States Constitution, laws, and flag, just as he did as a Marine Corps officer and state senator.

“What is unconstitutional is the way that our federal government is abdicating their duties,” Reichman went on to say. “They refuse to enforce the law. Our president took the same oath, and he, like US Customs and Border Protection, has failed.

The legislation now goes to the House for further deliberation.

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Jimmy Clyde
Jimmy Clyde
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