Senator Julian Garrett

A bill now eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate would bar Iowa cities and counties from having “any policy that discourages enforcement of federal immigration law.”

The Des Moines School Board recently adopted a policy that requires immigration officials to first contact the superintendent if they want to speak to someone on school grounds. Immigrants and their advocates crowded into a statehouse hearing on the bill yesterday, watching as Republican Senator Julian Garrrett of Indianola questioned Des Moines School Board member Rob Barron.

“Do you recognize that the federal government has jurisdiction in this area over immigration law?” Garrett asked.

Barron responded: “There’s not a single person in this room that believes that the federal immigration policy is right. What law enforcement asks for is not always appropriate or right or legal.”

The bill also would make officials in Iowa cities and counties liable if they fail to detain someone federal officials suspect is in the country illegally — and that person commits a felony within the next decade.

A bill that cleared a committee in the Iowa House about a month ago would deny state funds to any city, county, community college or public university with policies that seek to “restrict or limit” enforcement of federal immigration laws.

(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)