A bill making its way through the Iowa legislature directs local governments and police departments to comply with federal immigration authorities or risk losing state funding.
On this edition of River to River, legislative day co-hosts Ben Kieffer and Joyce Russell talk with lawmakers, law enforcement, an immigration advocate, and the mayor of Iowa City about their views on the proposal and how it may impact Iowa communities.
While there are no sanctuary cities in the state, Rep. Steve Holt (R), of Denison says the bill is necessary to uphold the rule of law and safety in Iowa communities.
“A sanctuary city policy fully enforced would allow a catch and release situation such as [what] happened in Colorado that led to the death of a gentleman named Timothy Cruz," he says. "So this bill is simply about traditional cooperation with immigration authorities to ensure the safety of everyone in our communities.”
Storm Lake Police Chief Mark Prosser works in one of the most diverse towns in the state. He says that he doesn’t see the need for the bill, since he is unaware of any law enforcement agency in Iowa that does not appropriately cooperate with federal partners. Also, he notes several complications that could arise, should Senate File 481 become law.
"[The bill] challenges the whole issue of local control. It dictates that agencies should or should not be creating policy as it applies to their normal operations. It talks about discrimination, but it leads you down a road of implied discrimination as to who you may or may not be further questioning on their immigration status,” Prosser says.
He also mentions the concern that this proposal could reverse the department’s effort to foster communication with immigrant communities over the years.
"Having a law like this [...] greatly impacts and effects our immigrant communities to the point where they don't trust their local law enforcement because they believe we're going to be involved in more immigration enforcement. And it pulls them back into the shadows when we're trying to work day-in and day-out in creating relationships and bring them forward to […] have that effective relationship that goes towards the true crime prevention in each community."
Other guests joining the discussion include: Rep. Wes Breckenridge (D), of Newton; Monica Reyes, DREAM Iowa president; and Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton.