DOJ and Civil Rights Groups Sue to Block Iowa Immigration Bill

( – Recently, Iowa legislators passed a bill that will let the state’s law enforcement and courts arrest and deport illegal immigrants. The state’s governor says the law is required to protect Iowans against the federal government’s failure to protect the borders. The Justice Department and civil rights groups disagree and claim it’s unconstitutional.


On April 10, the GOP-controlled Iowa Senate passed Senate File 2340. The bill creates a new criminal offense; any alien who has previously been denied entry to the US then “enters, attempts to enter, or is at any time found in this state” would be in violation. The new offense is an aggravated misdemeanor but can become a felony if the alien has been convicted of two or more drug offenses or crimes against the person. On May 10, Governor Kim Reynolds (R) signed the bill into law.

However, the day before Reynolds signed the bill, two separate lawsuits were filed in an attempt to prevent its enforcement. The first was from the Department of Justice. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, who heads the DoJ’s Civil Division, said he filed the suit because the US Constitution gives the federal government sole authority over immigration.

Boynton claimed that Supreme Court precedent confirms that immigration is linked to foreign relations, which states don’t have authority over. On May 3, Boynton had written to Reynolds, warning her to strike down the law by May 7 or face a lawsuit.

Meanwhile a second suit was filed the same day, on behalf of a coalition of civil rights groups and two Iowa residents. The organizations behind it are the American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and ACLU of Iowa. This suit uses basically the same arguments as the DoJ one, claiming the new law is unconstitutional. ACLU of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis Austen called the legislation “ugly” and “deeply harmful” and said it was “hard to overstate how awful and bizarre” it is.

Reynolds was quick to push back against the lawsuits, though. In an official statement soon after the DoJ filed suit, she said it’s her responsibility to protect her state’s citizens and “Since President Biden refuses to enforce our nation’s immigration laws,” the state will do the job instead. The next day, she signed the bill.

The administration, which is already fighting a similar bill passed by Texas, is determined to cling to control over immigration policy –- but with no sign of an end to the chaos at our borders, states are running out of patience.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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