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Judge Blocks IA Deportation Charge Law 06/18 06:15

   

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked an 
Iowa law that would have allowed law enforcement in the state to file criminal 
charges against people with outstanding deportation orders or who previously 
had been denied entry to the U.S.

   U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Locher issued a preliminary injunction 
because he said the U.S. Department of Justice and civil rights groups who 
filed suit against the state were likely to succeed in their argument that 
federal immigration law preempted the law approved this spring by Iowa 
lawmakers. He stopped enforcement of the law "pending further proceedings."

   "As a matter of politics, the new legislation might be defensible," Locher 
wrote in his decision. "As a matter of constitutional law, it is not."

   The Iowa law, which was set to take effect July 1, would let law enforcement 
file charges to be brought against people who have outstanding deportation 
orders or who previously have been removed from or denied admission to the U.S. 
Once in custody, migrants could either agree to a judge's order to leave the 
U.S. or be prosecuted, potentially facing time in prison before deportation.

   In approving the law, Iowa's Republican-majority Legislature and Republican 
Gov. Kim Reynolds said they took the action because the administration of 
Democratic President Joe Biden wasn't effective in controlling immigration 
along the nation's southern border.

   In arguments last week before Locher, the state said the Iowa law would only 
enable state law enforcement and courts to apply federal law, not create new 
law. Federal authorities determine who violates U.S. immigration law, Patrick 
Valencia, Iowa's deputy solicitor general, had argued, but once that is 
determined, the person also was in violation of state law.

   "We have a law that adopts the federal standard," Valencia said.

   However, the federal government and civil rights groups said the Iowa law 
violated the federal government's sole authority over immigration matters and 
would create a host of problems and confusion.

   Christopher Eiswerth, a DOJ attorney, and Emma Winger, representing the 
American Immigration Council, said the new Iowa law didn't make an exception 
for people who had once been deported but now were in the country legally, 
including those seeking asylum.

   The law is similar but less expansive than a Texas law, which was in effect 
for only a few confusing hours in March before it was put on hold by a federal 
appeals court's three-judge panel.

   The Justice Department has also announced it would seek to stop a similar 
law in Oklahoma.

   Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said in statement that she would appeal 
the judge's decision.

   "I am disappointed in today's court decision that blocks Iowa from stopping 
illegal reentry and keeping our communities safe," Bird said. "Since Biden 
refuses to secure our borders, he has left states with no choice but to do the 
job for him."

   Reynolds issued a statement that also expressed frustration at the judge's 
ruling and criticized Biden.

   "I signed this bill into law to protect Iowans and our communities from the 
results of this border crisis: rising crime, overdose deaths, and human 
trafficking," Reynolds said.

   Rita Bettis Austen, legal director of the ACLU of Iowa, one of the 
organizations that filed the lawsuit, praised the judge's decision, saying the 
law dumped a federal responsibility onto local law enforcement that wasn't 
prepared to take on the role.

   Bettis Austen called the law "among the worst anti-immigrant legislation in 
Iowa's history," adding that it "exposed even lawful immigrants, and even 
children, to serious harms -- arrest, detention, deportation, family 
separation, and incarceration, by the state."

 
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