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Bill making illegal immigration a state crime moves to Iowa House

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(The Center Square) – A bill that would make it a crime to be in the U.S. illegally while in Iowa is now in the hands of the Iowa House of Representatives.

Senate File 2340 would make illegal immigration an aggravated misdemeanor under two circumstances: If the person has been denied admission to or has been excluded, deported, or removed from the United States or if the person was previously deported and if the person left the U.S. while under a deportation or removal order and returned.

The charges are increased to a Class D felony if a person was removed after a misdemeanor conviction involving drugs or crimes against a person or if the person was subject to alien terrorist removal procedures.

A Class C felony would apply if the person were removed after a felony conviction. The bill would allow judges to issue an order that removes a person convicted from the U.S.

The Legislative Services Agency said the fiscal impact of the new law could not be determined because of a lack of existing conviction data. The costs to transport someone to a port of entry if the person is ordered out of the country is also unknown, the bill’s fiscal note said.

Bill sponsor Jeff Reichman, R-Montrose, said during Tuesday’s Senate debate that every state is a border state.

“I-35 provides a direct route from the border to Iowa,” Reichman said. “In 2023 alone, the Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Narcotics Enforcement has seized more than 83,000 fentanyl tablets, more than 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine and 165 pounds of cocaine. Twenty-six narcotics cases have direct links to Mexican cartels.”

Sen. Janice Weiner, D-Iowa City, said how those removed from the country would be transported is unclear.

“This bill is a political stunt and a false promise that doesn’t contain the needed resources,” Weiner said. “It’s a gotcha bill.”

Weiner said the U.S. Senate hammered out a “tough bipartisan bill” on illegal immigration. The bill did not make it out of the Senate.

“If you want a solution to the issues at the U.S. border, I suggest you call your U.S. senators and respective representatives,” Weiner said.

The bill passed 34 to 16.

Texas lawmakers passed a bill that was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, allowing state law enforcement officers to detain illegal immigrants. The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily put that law on hold on Monday.

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