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GOP governor signs bill allowing local authorities to arrest certain migrants, 'enforce immigration laws'

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law Wednesday a bill that allows local police to arrest illegal immigrants in the Hawkeye State who were previously deported.

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law Wednesday evening a measure that allows local police to arrest illegal immigrants in the Hawkeye State who have previously been deported or denied admission.

Senate File 2340, which makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to enter or re-enter the state if he or she has previously been deported or denied admission to the United States, is similar to a Texas law that has become the target of a high-profile legal challenge from the Biden administration.

In a statement announcing her signing of the measure, Reynolds said, "The Biden Administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk."

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


The new law, which passed through both chambers of the state legislature last month, is slated to take effect on July 1.

The law specifically makes it an aggravated misdemeanor offense, which is punishable by up to two years in prison, for migrants in the state who have outstanding deportation orders, who were previously deported or previously prohibited from entering the country.

The crime is raised to a felony offense, according to the new law, if the immigrant's removal orders pertained to misdemeanor convictions for drug-related crimes, crimes against people, or prior felony convictions.

The law, however, prevents police from arresting migrants suspected of violating the law at places of worship, medical facilities or schools.

The illegal immigrants who are arrested, according to the law's text, may be permitted to leave the country by a judge and forgo facing charges.

Similar proposals to crack down on illegal immigration have moved forward in recent weeks in Louisiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

The most high-profile similar legislation is in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott signed S.B. 4 into law in December, allowing police to arrest illegal immigrants and for judges to order them deported. The Texas law is part of Abbott's Operation Lone Star effort.


The Biden administration sued in January, arguing the law encroaches into federal territory, citing a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that shut down parts of an Arizona law that sought to empower state and local officials.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the law from going into effect, but it was briefly allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court, which kicked it back down to the appeals court without ruling on the merits. The 5th Circuit has since blocked it again, and the two sides presented oral arguments late last month.

A similar measure, which makes it a new crime for an illegal immigrant to enter or re-enter the state after having been deported, was introduced in the Louisiana Senate last month.

The measure, Senate Bill 388, was introduced by GOP state Sen. Valarie Hodges. Should the bill pass and be signed into law, violations would be punishable by imprisonment of up to a year and a fine of up to $4,000.

As part of the bill, Louisiana's governor would also be authorized to create an interstate compact with Texas to help control the "influx with respect to illegal immigration that consequently threatens the safety and security of Louisiana citizens."

SB 388 was approved by a Senate committee last month and was received in the House this week. It is expected to receive approval from the Republican-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Jeff Landry.

Hodges, a Republican, said the move is necessary due to the "open border" and inaction from the federal government.

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