Debate over ban of sanctuary cities

Lawmakers and staff on the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives in Des Moines.
Lawmakers and staff on the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives in Des Moines.(KCRG)
Published: Jan. 31, 2018 at 10:05 PM CST
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Senate File 481 would ban "sanctuary cities" and take away state funding from cities who don't comply with federal immigration officials.

Iowa City stops just short of calling itself a sanctuary city, but police do not enforce federal immigration law.

"We wouldn't call ourselves a sanctuary city, but it is important for residents to know that we won't be participating because that's never been a municipal process," said Iowa City Councilman Kinglsey Botchway.

In nearby Coralville, which does not have policies similar to sanctuary cities, there's support for immigration enforcement.

"They're getting out of it by just backing off, by not assisting, but not promoting," said Coralville Resident Cathy Grawe. "I think that's about as chicken liver as you can get."

Botchway says banning sanctuary cities can backtrack progress made. But others think it shouldn't have been allowed in the first place.

"Where does a government decide which laws they're going to follow and not follow? That's how I think of Iowa City," said Grawe. "I don't think they have a right to decide which laws they're going to enforce."

"Law makers at the state level are short-sighted," said Botchway. "They're not looking at the broader impact. They're not looking at the historical implications, or caring about the families."

On Tuesday, a House subcommittee pushed the bill forward advancing it to a full committee. Police Chief Jody Matherly was at that meeting in opposition to the bill.