Politics

DOJ and Civil Rights Groups file Lawsuits over Iowa Immigration Bill

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and several civil rights groups filed two lawsuits on Thursday to prevent an immigration bill from taking effect in Iowa.

Prior to filing a lawsuit in an attempt to block SF 2340 from taking effect on July 1, the DOJ warned it was planning to sue Iowa over the law, which would allow law enforcement officials to arrest undocumented migrants who have previously been deported.

The bill, which was signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) in April, also gives law enforcement certain powers to return undocumented migrants to their country of origin.

“Iowa cannot disregard the U.S. Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Division, said in a statement. “We have brought this action to ensure that Iowa adheres to the framework adopted by Congress and the Constitution for regulation of immigration.”

“The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Iowa, and the American Immigration Council filed a separate lawsuit” on Thursday over SF 2340, according to Iowa Public Radio.

That lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice and a “Jane Doe” and “Elizabeth Roe.” It argues that SF 2340 “makes no exception for people who reentered the United States with federal consent or who later gained lawful immigration status.”

“Nor does the law make an exception for people who are in the process of obtaining immigration status,” the lawsuit continues.

The suit further argues:

And the law provides no opportunity to raise humanitarian claims for protection from removal enshrined in federal immigration law and international conventions. People in these situations have explicit federal permission to remain in the country, yet S.F. 2340 directs state officials to nevertheless force them to leave the country or impose additional penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

When Reynolds signed the bill, she criticized the Biden administration for having “failed to enforce” the United States’ “immigration laws.”

“Those who come into our country illegally have broken the law, yet Biden refuses to deport them,” Reynolds said. “This bill gives Iowa law enforcement the power to do what he is unwilling to do: enforce immigration laws already on the books.”

States such as Texas and Oklahoma have passed similar laws.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed House Bill 4156 into law, which allows law enforcement officials to remove illegal aliens from the state. Under the bill, a crime called impermissible occupation is created and applies to people who have entered the U.S. illegally and remained in the country.

In 2023, Texas passed SB4; however, it was put on hold after several courts weighed in on the matter.

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