NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodSouthwest Iowa

Actions

Immigrant rights groups argue in federal court that Iowa law is unconstitutional

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 10, 2024

DES MOINES, Iowa (KMTV) — On Monday in federal court, immigration rights advocates challenged an Iowa immigration law set to take effect on July 1. It gives the state authority to deport immigrants who were previously deported from the United States and then re-entered the country.

  • Emma Winger, deputy legal director at the American Immigration Council, argues the law isn’t constitutional, under the supremacy clause, because it’s the federal government’s job to enforce immigration.
  • Immigration rights advocates are concerned that the law doesn't provide an exception for an individual who is currently in the United States legally but was deported in the past.
  • There are also concerns, among those opposed to the law, that immigrant crime victims might not come forward out of fear.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Is it constitutional for the state of Iowa to enforce federal immigration laws and deport people? I’m your Southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter, Katrina Markel.

On Monday in federal court, immigration rights advocates challenged an Iowa law, set to go into effect on July 1.

Outside the federal courthouse in Des Moines there were demonstrations.

Inside, lawyers presented arguments on an immigration law, signed by Governor Reynolds in April.

It gives the state authority to deport immigrants who were previously deported from the United States and then re-entered the country.

Emma Winger, deputy legal director at the American Immigration Council, argues the law isn’t constitutional because it’s the federal government’s job to enforce immigration.

“Immigration law is complex. It must be implemented uniformly and it impacts our foreign affairs,” Winger said.

Advocates also point out another potential issue: an immigrant who currently has legal status could be deported. That’s because the law doesn’t create an exception for someone who has legal status NOW, despite having been deported in the past.

Erica Johnson with Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice says she understands that many Iowans are frustrated with the immigration system.

“But this law is not a solution,” said Johnson. “Instead, what we have seen since the law was introduced and was passed and was signed into law is that the immigrant community is fearful.”

Immigration advocates say it could make the jobs of local police harder if victims are afraid to come forward.

A ruling is expected before July 1.