Iowa House passes bill making illegal immigration a state crime



(The Center Square) – A bill that allows law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants under certain circumstances passed the Iowa House of Representatives on Tuesday.

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 bill does not allow illegal immigrants to be arrested while in school, church or at a health care facility receiving treatment.

Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, who presented the bill on the floor, said while some illegal immigrants come to the U.S. looking for a better life, others are “gang members, drug dealers, terrorists and people who have killed American citizens that are endangering our citizens.”

“The federal government has abdicated its responsibilities and states can and must act,” Holt said.

Rep. Sami Scheetz, D-Cedar Rapids, was the only person to speak against the bill.

“Illegal immigration is a serious problem that requires action,” Scheetz said. “Yet the approach laid out in this bill misses the heart of what it truly means to address this issue with compassion, wisdom and effectiveness.”

The bill passed the House 64 to 30. It was messaged back to the Senate, which passed the bill earlier this month.

The law is similar to one passed by Texas lawmakers. The U.S. Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 on Tuesday to remove a stay that blocked the law from taking effect on March 5, allowing the state to enforce it for now. The ruling does not address the case’s merits, which are under review by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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