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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - The Republican-led Iowa Senate voted Wednesday night to impose financial sanctions against local governments that fail to cooperate with federal officials in enforcing immigration laws in Iowa.
Senate File 481, which passed 32-15, would require law enforcement agencies to comply with federal immigration detainer requests for people in their custody. In addition, the legislation would prohibit local governments from discouraging their enforcement officers or others from activities related to enforcing immigration laws.
The measure was supported by 28 Republicans and four Democrats, while 14 Democrats and one independent opposed it.
Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, said the bill was intended to address situations that arise when federal immigrations officials believe someone in custody is in the country illegally and subject to deportation. The measure would make sure Iowa is not home to any sanctuary cities or sanctuary counties, he added.
'The vast majority of local law enforcement folks comply with the requests, they cooperate with the federal authorities but there are a few that don't and unfortunately there are a few in Iowa don't,” he said. 'This bill is what I am proposing to deal with that problem.”
The measure would require local governments in Iowa to comply with federal detainer requests, prohibit them from adopting policies that discourage immigration enforcement activities, prohibit discriminatory practices and direct the state Department of Management to craft a uniform structure whereby state funds would be denied to local entities that violate the law's provisions.
'The intention of that is not to withhold state funds, but it's to create a sanction that is serious enough so that local entities with comply with the law,” Garrett said. 'That is the intent of this bill.”
Democrats and independent Sen. David Johnson of Ocheyedan blasted the bill as an unfunded mandate for local entities by requiring them to hold people without a court order and makes them potentially financial liable while not providing any money to cities and counties for their costs.
'Put your money where your mouth is,” said Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who demanded majority Republicans to 'show me the money” rather than take a political stand 'that you're too cheap to do anything about.”
Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said the bill was designed to 'extract a political vote” that could become campaign postcards next election for voting against a bill that is constitutionally questionable and violated legislative rules having failed to clear a procedural process that kept it eligible for consideration this session.
Johnson read passages from the Bible during the floor debate and wondered why a bill he called 'unnecessary, immoral and just bad legislation” was being considered during Christians' Holy Week. 'This bill that we thought was dead has risen up again,” said McCoy after senators voted 27-20 to override Hogg's challenge that the bill was ineligible for debate.
Republicans said the bill was following the will of the Iowa people and would be eligible for consideration by the Iowa House next session if representatives choose to take up the issue in 2018.
Sen. Rich Taylor, D-Mount Pleasant, voted present on a GOP 'strike-after” amendment that became the revised bill because the proceedings violated the Legislature's joint rules and the oath of office he took at the start of the session. Wednesday night's debate was interrupted for nearly a half-hour when emergency sirens were triggered because of a faulty smoke detector in the Capitol building's attic.
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