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Iowa Joins States Preemptively Moving Against Sanctuary Cities

iowa governor kim reynolds address to legislature

New state law now bars Iowa cities and counties from being sanctuaries for fugitive illegal immigrants under legislation signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R). Municipal leaders who choose to ignore the new law face a cutoff of state funding.

Meanwhile, the list of California communities rebelling against their state’s sanctuary state law could grow longer by at least one before the end of April.

While President Trump has vowed to cut off federal funding for states that go sanctuary, Iowa’s new law — along with similar legislation approved in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — could hurt rogue cities that decide not to cooperate with ICE.

Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, told Inside Sources any such law passed by a state legislature could be legal and held up in court, depending on the state’s constitution.

Senate Fill 481, Republican leaders said, was inspired by Iowa City’s policy that said the municipality would not spend local money to enforce federal immigration law. It was also a response to what GOP politicians in Iowa saw happening in other cities across the country, where local leaders declared their communities to be sanctuaries.

But Republicans, like Sen. Jim Carlin of Sioux City, said the legislation was inspired by more than a political debate.

He pointed to the death of a 22-year-old woman who was killed in an Omaha traffic accident in 2016. An illegal immigrant drove the other car. He’d been drinking.

Edwin Mejia, 19, posted bond after being charged with vehicular homicide and ran. He has not been seen since.

“This is not about race. You know, frankly, it is about protecting people. It is about safety," said Carlin. “There is a place for compassion. But there is also a place for identifying criminal elements who represent a threat to the safety and security of this country."

Sen. Joe Bolkcom was one of the Iowa Democrats arguing against S.F. 481. Opponents of the legislation pointed out that none of the cities or counties in the state have declared themselves to be sanctuaries. Iowa City, even though it was held up as an example of why the legislation was needed, has never announced itself to be a sanctuary.

“Immigrants are an important part of our robust agricultural economy. So why are you guys buying into the fear-mongering?" Bolkcom said.

Iowa was not the first state to penalize city officials who decide not to help federal immigration officials, and it may not be the last.

Even though South Carolina, like Iowa, doesn’t have any sanctuary cities yet, the state Senate passed a budget amendment Thursday that would require municipalities prove to the State Tax Division, annually, that they are not ignoring federal immigration laws.

The State reported the amendment is expected to be approved by the South Carolina House later this spring.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who spoke against sanctuary cities in his State of the State address, declared victory via his Twitter account.

"The S.C. Senate just took a major step towards making sure there will NEVER be a sanctuary city in our great state," McMaster tweeted Thursday. "Huge thanks to Sen. William Timmons and the rest of the Senate for sending a loud and clear message to the world that criminals won’t find sanctuary here."

Tennessee lawmakers are debating similar legislation, even though their state is also without a single sanctuary city.

Opponents who have raised the twin issues of racial profiling and prejudice point to Republican Rep. Jay Reedy using the term “wetback” to describe illegal immigrants he worked alongside as a teenager in an apple orchard.

Democrat Rep. Johnny Shaw said the legislation, as approved by a state House Committee Tuesday, “will give people the right to do more (profiling).”

But Rep. Tim Rudd (R) said the legislation was needed so that Tennessee didn’t encounter the same problems that sanctuary cities are causing in California.

Instead of the pushback against sanctuary status going from the state capitol down to the municipal level, municipal officials in several California cities are rebelling against what Sacramento has imposed on their communities.

KASU reported that at least a dozen California communities have voted to oppose the state’s “sanctuary law” — Senate Bill 54. That legislation is intended to protect some illegal immigrants by reducing cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents.

The conservative California revolt began in the Orange County suburb of Los Alamitos, where city leaders voted in March against S.B. 54.

"I don't like the direction California is [going]," said Warren Kusumoto, Los Alamitos’ mayor pro tem, who drafted the initiative.

It’s true that Kusumoto is a Republican. It’s also a fact that his grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Japan.

"I believe my grandparents did it the right way, they were able to immigrate, become naturalized eventually and citizens," Kusumoto told KASU. "Why is that not the right way for anybody to come over here as immigrants?"

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote April 17 on whether the county should join the federal lawsuit against California’s sanctuary state status.

“This is a public safety issue. We have people crossing our border illegally, and they are committing crimes,” San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said on the Todd Starnes Show. “The California law puts a wedge between the ability of local law enforcement and federal officials to cooperate with each other.”