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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  “People simply desiring a better life for themselves and their families are emboldened to take great risk, by lax border security, lack of enforcement of immigration laws, and sanctuary city policies that suggest the rule of law need not apply,” said State Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, during his remarks on the floor of the Iowa House in support of Senate File 481.

Holt said it’s not only the lives of U.S. citizens that are put in danger by laws that encourage illegality, as he put it, but also the lives of undocumented immigrants.

“How many human beings, just wanting a better life and the promise of America, end up as victims of human trafficking or die attempting the journey, as was found in Denison some 16 years ago?” he asked. “How is this humane?”

Senate File 481 seeks to strengthen enforcement of immigration laws, in part by mandating cooperation between state, local, and federal authorities. In fact, the bill says putting restrictions on enforcement of immigration law is prohibited. In section four, the bill says, “A local entity shall not adopt or enforce a policy or take any other action under which the local entity prohibits or discourages the enforcement of immigration laws.”

While making his argument that this bill will make Iowa safer, Representative Holt cited statistics of crimes committed by those who are here illegally. That was something with which Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, a Des Moines Democrat, strongly disagreed.

“To paint a picture that was just painted in this chamber was so racist,” he stated, going on to say, “we just stereotyped a race of people here and we did it in a way of passing a bill, talking about safety.”

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  With just one description from Josh Colvin, the Director of Animal Control Services at the Animal Rescue League, it is easy to see why Iowa law bans cockfighting.

“You’ve got people that put knives on animals so they can see the brutality of cutting up other animals,” he said.

Even in Iowa, some residents believe in participating in the activity that dates back several hundred years and remains legal in areas of Mexico and other countries.

Colvin said, “I understand, but it is illegal in 50 states so the U.S. is saying we are not going to tolerate it here.”

A criminal complaint from late March shows Jose Barrios was arrested and charged with a felony count related to cockfighting.

“He was raising these birds to fight and training them to fight and sending them somewhere else,” said Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek.

Barrios admitted to training the roosters to fight in Mexican derbies.

Parizek said, “We know these animals aren’t born with the instinct to kill each other. That’s something developed by nefarious humans, basically.”

In early March, 104 roosters and hens were removed from Barrios’ Des Moines home in the 2700 block of Hickman Road.

“It is a serious crime for good reason. We take the cruelty piece very seriously,” said Parizek.

In July, Des Moines police and the ARL rescued 85 roosters in a similar cockfighting bust on Des Moines’ east side. At the time, the ARL said it was the organization’s first illegal animal fighting case in seven years.

“We’ve had a couple that have been back to back,” said Colvin.

With two high-profile busts in less than a year, it is easy to see an increase in cockfighting in Des Moines, but officials also point to an increase in community involvement that has led to uncovering the criminal activity.

“Fortunately we’ve got some great neighbors in Des Moines who, as simple as it seems, like 100 roosters would get your attention in some areas, it doesn’t.  They let us know, we were able to investigate it and file charges,” said Parizek.

The animals were taken in by the Animal Rescue League. Barrios’ preliminary hearing has been scheduled for April 13th.