First Texas, Now Iowa: State, Local Cops To Start Arresting Illegal Migrants In July

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Following a path blazed by the once and future Republic of Texas, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday signed into law a measure making it a state crime to enter the Hawkeye State after being deported or denied entry into the country. As an “aggravated misdemeanor,” it would subject illegal immigrants to imprisonment for up to two years.

Reynolds raced to sign the bill just one day after it cleared the state legislature. In a statement issued after the signing, she said President Biden’s neglect of border security made it imperative for Iowa to step up and fill the void:

“The Biden Administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk. Those who come into our country illegally have broken the law, yet Biden refuses to deport them. This bill gives Iowa law enforcement the power to do what he is unwilling to do: enforce immigration laws already on the books.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott watches Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speak at a 2021 press conference along the Rio Grande (AP/Eric Gay via The Gazette)

In December, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law making it a state crime to illegally enter the Lone Star State from a foreign nation. Under that law, illegal border crossings are now a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Repeat offenses will be a second-degree felony subject to prison sentences from two to 20 years. Judges can kill the charges if an arrested immigrant agrees to go back to Mexico.

Iowa’s law is slated to take effect on July 1, but will certainly be challenged for allegedly exceeding state authority. The Texas law been on a litigation rollercoaster. In the latest move, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lower court’s injunction against enforcement of the law. While all that has been going on, nobody has been arrested under its authority.

Via the New York Times, here are the specifics on Iowa’s particular assertion of state authority:

The law makes it a misdemeanor for a person to enter Iowa if they were previously deported from the United States, denied entry to the country, or left the country while facing a deportation order. In some cases, including people with certain prior convictions, the state crime would become a felony. To enforce the new law, Iowa police officers would be allowed to make arrests in most places, but not in schools, places of worship or health care facilities.

The ACLU’s Mark Stringer condemned Iowa’s new law, saying it “tells Iowa judges to order someone to be deported or jailed before they have an opportunity to seek humanitarian protection that they are entitled to.”

The new Iowa law isn’t the only way the state has aligned with Texas. Joining at least 13 other states, Iowa has deployed 115 National Guard soldiers to Texas in support of Operation Lone Star, a combined Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety operation aimed at repelling illegal immigrants at the border and arresting human smugglers and drug traffickers.

In support of that operation, Texas has begun building “Forward Operating Base Eagle in the border city of Eagle Pass. It will house upwards of 1,800 soldiers, and will include a 700-seat dining facility, workout equipment, a recreation center and laundries, vehicle maintenance bays, weapons storage rooms and a helipad.

 

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