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Last week the Iowa Senate passed a bill requiring E-Verify be used by Iowa employers in an effort to curb the illegal immigration crisis. On Tuesday the Senate Republicans passed another bill attempting to crack down on illegal immigration.

Senate File 2340 creates a new chapter in code related to illegal reentry into Iowa by certain aliens. It also creates procedures for law enforcement, the Department of Public Safety and judicial officers as well as establishing criminal offenses.

A person who attempts to enter or is found in Iowa after previously being denied admission to shall be forced to leave the country under the proposal.

Rules are set in the bill for peace officers and the Department of Public Safety to limit locations where an individual may be arrested for illegal reentry, tasks required prior to the issuance of a return order and criminal record reporting requirements.

The law is necessary due to the Biden Administration’s dereliction of duty at the border, according to Republican State Sen. Jeff Reichman.

“Every state is a border state,” Reichman said. “Iowa is no exception.”

In 2023 alone, the Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Narcotics Enforcement seized more than 83,000 fentanyl tablets, more than 1,000 pounds of meth and 165 pounds of cocaine. Reichman said 26 narcotics cases had direct links to Mexican cartels.

Democrat State Sen. Janice Weiner asked Reichman how he foresees these individuals will be transported to a port of entry and what law enforcement officers or agency will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the order.

Reichman said the answer will come from the rules process, which prompted laughter on the floor from Democrats. Weiner said Texas has 31 points of entry. She noted the bill is a “copycat” of a law passed in Texas. But Iowa, she said, has just one point of entry for international travel.

Weiner said colleagues who serve as deputies in Iowa have discussed the difficulties they have getting someone from a county jail to Fort Madison.

“Imagine having to fly an individual abroad or drive them to the border,” Weiner said. “I don’t know how it’s going to happen. This bill is a political stunt and also a promise that doesn’t contain any of the needed resources. It’s a gotcha bill.”

Rather than pass such a law, Weiner suggested reaching out to United States Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley as well as Iowa’s House of Representatives delegation to encourage them to take up a vote on the bipartisan immigration deal put together in the Senate.

Reichman closed the debate by noting that he took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, the law and the flag 29 years ago as a Marine. He took that same oath when he entered the Senate.

“Our President took that same oath along with US Customs and Borders,” Reichman said. “He has failed.”

The bill passed on a party-line vote. It must still pass the House before becoming law.


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