An effort has failed that would have made Iowa City the first city in the state to adopt a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to immigration enforcement. A proposed “Sanctuary City” policy was rejected by the city council. City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes says a new federal program will require the city to report certain information about arrests.
Dilkes says, “State law says that fingerprints taken at the local level must be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety and the sanction for not doing that is to lose access to the criminal history database.” Losing access to that database, Dilkes says, would severely tie the hands of local law enforcement. Due to that new federal policy, she says the Sanctuary City policy would be toothless.
Dilkes says, “If the city makes a statement that it will not ask about immigration status and will not assist in the investigation of immigration status, it needs to also say that we don’t have control over that.”
Dilkes says if people don’t understand the risks, then a Sanctuary City policy in name only could do more harm than good. Still, city council members are asking several religious and human rights groups to suggest specific policies that could be improved to benefit the local immigrant community.