Iowa Bans Sanctuary Cities

By Preston Huennekens on April 13, 2018

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) signed legislation this week banning sanctuary city policies in the State of Iowa.

Senate File 481 directs state law enforcement agencies to fully comply with detainer notices issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and bars local entities from adopting or enforcing any policy that "discourages the enforcement of immigration laws."

Interestingly, Section 825.7 directs that law enforcement cannot investigate the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses. This addresses a common criticism of anti-sanctuary policies that immigration enforcement encourages a "chilling effect" within immigrant communities.

However, as my colleague Jessica Vaughan reported last June, top law enforcement officials testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that such an effect does not exist. Either way, Iowa lawmakers clearly took any potential "chilling effect" into consideration when crafting this legislation.

To further encourage compliance with the law, section 825.9 denies all state funds to jurisdictions that adopt sanctuary policies in defiance of the new law. If a locality loses its funding it must wait 90 days before petitioning for funding to be reinstated.

Iowa is the latest state to vote on anti-sanctuary legislation. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam (D) recently vetoed a bill banning sanctuary policies, despite a campaign pledge that he would sign such legislation.

Critics of the Iowa bill argued that Iowa does not have any sanctuary cities. But, using resources released by ICE, CIS identified 14 jurisdictions in Iowa with active sanctuary policies. Following the passage of Senate File 481 these jurisdictions will have to adjust their policies in order to remain eligible for state funding.