Eleven of the 12 Republicans on a House committee have advanced an anti-sanctuary cities bill, making it eligible for House debate.
The legislation would deny state money to any city in the state that declares itself a sanctuary to people at risk of deportation because of their immigration status. Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, said the city council in Iowa City “is causing this” action from legislators because it has barred Iowa City Police from acting on their own to “detect the presence of undocumented people.”
“The rule of law and the voluntary compliance to the rule of law is one of the most important parts of our society,” Baudler told reporters yesterday. “If we don’t adhere to that, we’re going to have chaos and I don’t want to live in a place with chaos.”
The bill cleared the House Public Safety Committee last night, but not after some extraordinary moves. Baudler chose to restrict public access to an early afternoon committee meeting on the bill, because there were protesters last year when a similar bill was considered in his committee.
“I threw 11 people out of here, one at a time,” Baudler said. “We don’t want a repeat of that and that was an attempt to stop it.”
Later in the afternoon, an immigrant engaged Baudler in conversation and referred to the bill as racist. Baudler replied. “That just really bugs me when you refer to me as that.”.
Baudler then recited part of his extended family tree: “My great-grandkids: Carlita, Emilio, Bella — Isabella, Salina, Megan, Wyatt — they’re out in California.”
Baudler — who is chairman of the House Public Safety Committee — was encouraged by House leadership to move the panel’s evening meeting to a larger room. That allowed about two dozen members of the public who oppose the bill to watch committee’s deliberations. There were no disruptions.
Police chiefs from Marshalltown, Storm Lake, Des Moines and Iowa City told legislators earlier this year police work in immigrant communities would be more difficult if this bill becomes law. Other opponents of the bill say there are no cities in the state which are offering “sanctuary” status to prevent deportations.