SENATOR JULIAN B. GARRETT

   LEGISLATIVE NEWS

  Statehouse, Des Moines, IA 50319         

                                    Julian.Garrett@legis.iowa.gov


                   

           “Sanctuary” Bill

We were finally able to pass my “sanctuary” bill that I have been working on for more than a year. The House passed the bill on Tuesday. We debated the bill in the Senate until about 8:00 p.m. Wednesday. I expect the Governor to sign it. The bill is often referred to as a “sanctuary city” bill, but that is really a misnomer. The bill actually affects both cities and counties that do not honor detainer requests from the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly called ICE. ICE issues detainer requests, nearly always to sheriffs, since sheriffs are in charge of county jails where nearly all prisoners are held. The detainers are issued when Ice believes the prisoner is in the country illegally and is subject to deportation. The sheriff is asked to hold the prisoner so ICE can pick him or her up, but not more than 48 hours beyond the time the prisoner was scheduled to otherwise be released. The bill also prohibits cities and counties from enacting policies that discourage or prohibit employees from co-operating with ICE.    

Crime victims or witnesses are not subject to the bill. We do not want victims or witnesses who may not be in the country illegally to be reluctant to report crimes, or testify in trials.

The bill provides that cities or counties that intentionally violate this law will be ineligible to receive state funds. They can apply to have their funds restored after 90 days. I do not believe it will be necessary to withhold funds from any city or county. It would be very irresponsible of any of them to intentionally violate the law and give up their state funding.

There were several arguments used by Democrats in opposing the bill. One main argument was that there was no need for the bill because everyone is already complying with ICE detainer requests. Though most officials do comply, some, including the Johnson County Sheriff, do not. The Johnson County Sheriff about a year ago issued a statement stating, in part “The Johnson County Sheriff will not honor voluntary detainer requests nor will the Sheriff’s Office assist United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement in enforcement raids.” The statement was signed by the Johnson County Sheriff and all five members of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. This bill will require the sheriff to honor detainer requests. It does not require him to participate in immigration raids. The bill does not use the terms “sanctuary city” or “sanctuary county.” The critical point is not whether they call themselves a sanctuary city or county, but whether they honor detainer requests.

Some argued that ICE detainer requests are unconstitutional, and that a prisoner should only be turned over to ICE if there is a court order requiring it. This argument ignores the Mendoza case decided just over a year ago by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a Nebraska case. In Mendoza the local Nebraska sheriff had arrested Mendoza and ICE issued a detainer request and the sheriff turned Mendoza over to ICE.  Further investigation determined that they had the wrong man and Mendoza was released. He sued the sheriff and ICE. In dismissing the case the Court said:

“Here, the County employees . . . reasonably relied on Osterberg’s (the ICE agent) probable cause determination for the detainer. Thus, there was no violation of Mendoza’s constitutional rights, and the County employees are or would be entitled to qualified immunity.”    

I was a little surprised at how vigorously some of the Democrats opposed the bill. I don’t know why they are so emotional at the idea of deporting some criminals. On the final vote all Republicans voted for the bill and all but one Democrat voted against the bill. That Democrat voted Present.  



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Apr 6, 2018, 4:59 PM
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