Justice Department warns plans to sue Iowa over new state immigration law

The U.S. Department of Justice has told Iowa’s top officials that it plans to sue the state over a new law which makes it a criminal offense for a person to be in Iowa if they were previously denied entry to or removed from the United States. The statute interferes with the federal government’s authority to enforce immigration law, according to the DOJ, which has already sued Texas to block a similar measure. The DOJ informed Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and state Attorney General Brenna Bird that it intends to sue unless the state agrees by May 7th not to enforce the law, according to a letter sent on Thursday which was first reported by the Des Moines Register. Bird indicated on Friday that the state is unlikely to agree to the federal terms. “Iowa will not back down and stand by as our state’s safety hangs in the balance,” she said in a statement. The similar Texas law is currently on hold due to the Justice Department’s legal challenge. Legal experts and some law enforcement officials have said the Iowa law poses the same questions raised in the Texas case because enforcing immigration law has historically fallen under federal authorities. The Iowa law violates the U.S. Constitution because it “effectively creates a separate state immigration scheme,” the Justice Department said in its letter. The law, which takes effect on July 1st, would allow criminal charges to be brought against people who have outstanding deportation orders or who previously have been removed from or denied admission to the United States. Once in custody, migrants could either agree to a judge’s order to leave the U.S. or face prosecution. The law has elevated anxiety in , leading to protests in Des Moines and other cities on Wednesday. Republicans across the country have accused of neglecting his duty to enforce federal immigration law. “The only reason we had to pass this law is because the Biden Administration refuses to enforce the laws already on the books,” Reynolds said in a statement on Friday.