Joining Texas, Iowa Enacts Law for State Immigration Enforcement

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will make it a state crime for a person to enter Iowa after having been deported or denied entry into the United States.

The new law, which is set to take effect July 1 but could face court challenges, joins Iowa with Texas in seeking to enforce immigration limits outside the federal system. Ms. Reynolds, who had said she would sign the legislation, accused federal officials of failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and putting Americans at risk.

“The Biden administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk,” Ms. Reynolds, a Republican, said in a statement. “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.”

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Most but not all Democrats in the Iowa Legislature voted against the measure. But with Republicans wielding large majorities in both chambers, opponents could not prevent the bill from passing.

“This bill is a political stunt and a false promise that doesn’t contain the needed resources,” State Senator Janice Weiner, a Democrat from the Iowa City area, said when her chamber debated the measure. “It’s a gotcha bill.”

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.

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