Julian Garett

Twenty-eight members of the Iowa Senate tonight voted to send Governor Kim Reynolds a bill that would punish so-called “sanctuary cities” by denying state funds to any local government that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

Senator Julian Garrett, a Republican from Indianola, said polls show Americans and Iowans strongly favor this bill.

“We are ensuring that law enforcement’s going to work with ICE in the future,” Garrett said. “…Communities will be able to deport some of their criminals. I don’t know why they wouldn’t want to do that.”

Supporters and opponents of the bill agree there are no “sanctuary cities” in Iowa today, but critics say Iowa City’s City Council has tread close to the line, making the bill necessary. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, called the bill “fear-mongering.”

“The president, Mr. Trump, taught us about that and it’s a terrible lesson in sowing the seeds of hate, bigotry, division,” Bolkcom said. “It plays at election time. You know it and we know it.”

Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, said the bill sends an “ugly message” to new Iowans.

“As I look around this chamber, we’re all looking pretty white in here,” McCoy said. “I think the people that are going to be impacted by this kind of legislation and the people that are going to be fearful of this kind of legislation are people that don’t look like us.”

Senator Jim Carlin, a Republican from Sioux City, said the bill “is about protecting people” from “criminal elements.”

The United States is a sovereign nation,” Carlin said. “As a sovereign nation we have every right to define our boundaries and enforce our borders and our primary duty in government is to protect our citizenry.”

The Senate passed this bill last year. The House made a few adjustments and passed it Tuesday night. This evening, a majority of Senators ratified those changes and sent the bill to the governor. Governor Kim Reynolds has said she is “strongly opposed” to any Iowa city declaring itself a “sanctuary” in an effort to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation. Reynolds also sent a fundraising email that touted the bill as a way to send a message to “far left liberals in Des Moines and Iowa City.”