Iowa law enforcement prepare for new statewide immigration law

Iowa law enforcement preparing for new immigration law

The latest local, regional and national news events of the day are presented by the ABC 6 News Team, along with updated sports, weather and traffic.

(ABC 6 News) – The state of Iowa is in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice after the passage of a new, statewide immigration enforcement bill as the clock ticks down on a potential federal lawsuit.

The state legislation allows state and local law enforcement to charge and arrest undocumented immigrants in Iowa.

Law enforcement in north Iowa says the legislation should not change how they operate too much, but they are aware of new hurdles come this summer.

With thousands of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border each day, the situation is now considered a crisis. But back home in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is cracking down on illegal immigration.

“I think what the legislators are trying to do is send a strong message, we welcome immigrants, but we want them to do it the legal way,” said Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals.

In a statement, Gov. Reynolds said in part, “The only reason we had to pass this law is because the Biden Administration refuses to enforce the law already on the books.”  

“I think there could be a time where this charge is appropriate, you know, where we have another criminal charge on somebody who is here illegally, who has been deported that might be an appropriate charge to file publicly to make a statement. Don’t come back here and do these things,” said Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley.

Law enforcement in north Iowa is preparing for that law to become official, but Sheriff Pals and Chief Brinkley say both departments will still operate the same.

“The law doesn’t change much of our practices. Obviously, we are not going to necessarily look for illegal immigrants, we have other law violators that we are looking for,” said Sheriff Pals.

“It’s a hard one for us, I think in terms of being a good partner in our community to federal law enforcement partners,” said Chief Brinkley. “I don’t know if this is necessarily our job, our role, or going to be our mission, to enforce this law.”

Officials say they don’t deal with undocumented immigrants too often. They also do not want this new law to fracture their relationship with the diverse communities they serve.

“Our goal is to meet the community where they are. We want them to be comfortable having contact with our officers. I want them to be able to trust our officers. I want them to know we are speaking truth to them,” said Chief Brinkley.

“There are potentially going to be some criminals that are crossing the border, but I think the majority of the people crossing the border aren’t coming here to harm anyone,” said Sheriff Pals.

Tuesday is the deadline for Iowa officials to agree to not enforce the law.

However, as of Friday, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said it is unlikely Iowa will agree to the federal terms.

The DOJ believes the new legislation “effectively creates a separate immigration scheme.”

At this time of this article, the law is expected to be enacted July 1, 2024.