DES MOINES, Iowa — Protesters gathered for a rally at the Capitol Wednesday Night, opposing the new law, saying it will break a trust that’s been created between the immigrant community and local law enforcement.
“Our local law enforcement, throughout the years, have created a relationship with the community in and of itself, especially even the hispanic community, a relationship of security and safety,” said Jessica Hernandez, with Dream Iowa Coalition. “And, now with them, local law enforcement working with higher federal officials, that relationship in itself is getting tainted with that collaboration and that working together.”
Hernandez was one of many protesters who rallied to show solidarity with the immigrant community, especially youth and young adults who are DACA recipients, but also on behalf of all immigrants who are afraid and have anxiety about the Governor signing SF 481 into law.
“It makes Iowa a really dangerous place for everyone, not just immigrants,” said Madeline Cano, a Community Organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “It forces our police to have to pick a side and to choose who they actually serve and we think immigration is the job of the federal government. It’s not the job of local government to decide that.”
Also on hand for the rally was State Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids
“The legislation that the Republican Legislature passed and Governor Reynolds signed does not reflect Iowa,” said Senator Hogg. “Iowa`s a very welcoming state and unfortunately that legislation was motivated by prejudice.”
But the Republicans who passed the legislation say Senate File 481 simply enforces the rule of law by ensuring cooperation between local, state, and federal authorities.
“The majority of immigrants that are here illegally just came here for a better life, and those are not who we`re talking about here,” said State Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison. Holt made his comments last week, when the bill was debated and voted upon. “We`re talking about individuals who have committed additional crimes and traditional cooperation with law enforcement, because there are individuals here illegally, with violent criminal pasts that are disobeying other laws and placing citizens and their fellow immigrants at risk through dangerous disregard for the law.”
When asked for comment, the Governor’s Office provided the following statement:
“Governor Reynolds is strongly opposed to any city or community in Iowa becoming a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants who have chosen to commit a crime. This law will simply require our local jurisdictions to work with immigration officials when dealing with illegal immigrants who have knowingly broken the law.”