Staff Columnist

Here's why (and how) Iowans should resist immigration raids

MPN photo by Karyn Spory

Dozens of Mt. Pleasant locals and people from across Iowa gathered on the lawn of the Henry Co
MPN photo by Karyn Spory Dozens of Mt. Pleasant locals and people from across Iowa gathered on the lawn of the Henry County Courthouse Thursday, May 10. The gathering was to protest the arrest of 32 men from MPC Enterprises by immigration and Customs Enforcement Wednesday morning.

The Trump administration is planning significant immigration raids in the coming weeks. That will threaten community and economic stability for all of us, not just immigrants.

The president said this past weekend he is delaying his “Illegal Immigration Removal Process,” but pledged mass arrests and deportations will commence if Congress does not take action on his immigration policy priorities. Understandably, immigrant communities are on edge.

Iowa has an estimated 50,000 unauthorized immigrants, according to the most recent figures from Pew Research Center. That accounts for about 2.2 percent of the state’s labor force, which is lower than many other states but still significant.

'Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.'

- American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa


An immigration raid can have a serious impact on a small town. We saw that last year, when law enforcement authorities arrested 32 men at a concrete manufacturing facility in Mt. Pleasant.

Those arrests not only took workers away from their jobs, they traumatized families and had ripple effects across the community. Even a local Republican lawmaker voiced frustration over the government’s heavy-handed tactics.

“It comes as a total shock. This is a peaceful community. People were working and out of the blue there were flashing lights and helicopters,” Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mt. Pleasant, said after the raid, as reported by Mt. Pleasant News reporter Grace King.

Unauthorized immigrants are victims of a broken immigration system that deprives humans of their God-given right of free movement. The system also violates citizens’ natural rights to choose who they employ and do business with.


Yes, it is against the law to be in the United States without authorization, but arrests and deportations are disproportionate responses to what are often civil violations, not criminal offenses. Many of those targeted by previous raids have no criminal history.

People in government custody sometimes are subject to inhumane treatment, not least of which is being separated from their families. That may have lasting physical and psychological effects.

Detainment and physical removal should be seen as extreme measures, reserved for those who pose a legitimate threat to people or property. Most unauthorized immigrants do not pose such a threat.

With that in mind, there are some things allies can do to help protect immigrants. Whether you realize it or not, there is a good chance you know someone living in the country illegally.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa offers tips on how to respond to inquiries from immigration agents, available in both English and Spanish. Anyone, including noncitizens, has the right to remain silent. In most cases, you have the right to refuse a search of your body our home.

Also remember, your right to observe the police and inform others about their activities is protected by the First Amendment. The California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance recommends documenting such situations with notes, photos and videos, which you can share with immigrant rights organizations that may be able to alert vulnerable people.

Immigrants enrich our communities. Dragnet deportation raids do not.

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