Judge Blocks Iowa Law On Immigrant Arrests And Deportation

 June 19, 2024

An Iowa law aimed at allowing state authorities to arrest and deport certain illegal immigrants has been blocked by a federal judge.

A federal judge has ruled that an Iowa law permitting state authorities to arrest and deport some illegal immigrants is unconstitutional.

According to Daily Wire, U.S. District Judge Stephen Locher, appointed by President Joe Biden, declared the law unconstitutional on Monday, stating that it violates the Constitution's Supremacy Clause and interferes with the federal government’s authority over immigration. The law, known as Senate File 2340, was signed into law by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds in April and was set to take effect on July 1.

Iowa Law Faces Federal Legal Challenge

The blocked law would have allowed state authorities to arrest and deport illegal immigrants who had previously been removed from the U.S. or denied entry. It also included provisions for illegal immigrants to face up to 10 years in prison for reentering the U.S. if they were arrested for committing a separate felony. Additionally, the law required judges to submit deportation orders for illegal immigrants convicted of unlawfully entering the country.

Judge Locher's ruling was influenced by a 2012 Supreme Court decision that invalidated a similar Arizona law. The Supreme Court had ruled that the Arizona law interfered with federal enforcement of immigration laws, a precedent that Locher cited in his decision. The Department of Justice had sued Iowa over the law last month, arguing that the state was disregarding the U.S. Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent.

Governor Reynolds And Attorney General Respond

Governor Reynolds and Iowa Republican Attorney General Brenna Bird have expressed their intention to appeal Judge Locher’s ruling. Reynolds had previously defended the state law, claiming it was necessary due to President Biden’s failure to enforce national immigration laws, which she argued put the safety of Iowans at risk. Bird echoed these sentiments, expressing disappointment with the court’s decision.

“As a matter of politics, the new legislation might be defensible. As a matter of constitutional law, it is not,” wrote Judge Locher in his judgment. He emphasized that under binding Supreme Court precedent, Senate File 2340 is preempted by federal law and is invalid under the Supremacy Clause.

Similar Laws In Other States

The Iowa immigration law is part of a broader trend among GOP-controlled states to pass similar legislation. States like Texas and Georgia have enacted laws authorizing state authorities to prosecute illegal immigrants, although these laws have also faced legal challenges and blocks.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have argued that the Biden administration is failing to address illegal immigration, pointing to issues such as violent transnational cartels and the influx of fentanyl and weapons.

Paxton has stated that Texas has a constitutional duty to protect its citizens from these threats. The blocking of Iowa’s law highlights the ongoing legal and political battles over state versus federal authority in immigration enforcement.

Federal Government’s Role In Immigration

The Department of Justice has made it clear that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility. The DOJ’s lawsuit against Iowa is part of its broader efforts to ensure that state laws do not conflict with federal regulations and the Constitution. The ruling against Iowa’s law reinforces the federal government’s authority over immigration matters.

Governor Reynolds had argued that the state law was necessary to protect Iowans due to what she described as the federal government’s failure to act. However, the federal court’s decision underscores the importance of maintaining federal supremacy in immigration enforcement.


A federal judge blocked Iowa’s law allowing state authorities to arrest and deport illegal immigrants, citing it as unconstitutional and interfering with federal immigration authority. U.S. District Judge Stephen Locher referenced a 2012 Supreme Court decision in his ruling. Governor Reynolds and Attorney General Bird plan to appeal, claiming the law is crucial for Iowan safety.

About Aileen Barro

With years of experience at the forefront of political commentary, Robert Cunningham brings a blend of sharp wit and deep insight to his analysis of American principles at the Capitalism Institute.

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