Iowa City may adopt sanctuary status - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City may adopt sanctuary status

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IOWA CITY (KWWL)-- In a recent letter to the Iowa City city council, Reverend Rudolph Juarez urged members to consider an ordinance that would make Iowa City a sanctuary city, the first of its kind in the state.

Sanctuary city committee member Sarah Swisher said that would prevent city employees, including emergency responders and law enforcement, from inquiring about a person's citizenship status. She said that's a job for federal law enforcement.

"We see somebody with brown skin and an accent, they should not receive additional scrutiny in their working with city departments or safety personnel," said Swisher.

She told us it's about making residents of the community, living here legally or not, feel welcome. But critics say it's laws like this one that make it easier for illegal immigrants to conduct criminal activity.

"You're bringing the criminal aspect in. The drug cartels, they bring their agents up," said Craig Halverson, director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

Halverson told us his organization opposes sanctuary laws, which have been adopted by dozens of other major U.S. cities. He's pushing in the opposite direction.

"We've already started a petition going around the state, to bring Arizona laws to Nebraska. And probably about the end of the month, we're going to start the petition around in Iowa, too."

However, Swisher explained that sanctuary laws are not meant to protect criminals. 

"We're talking about ordinary residents of our community, who contribute every day to the well-being of everybody who lives here," said Swisher.

We also spoke with Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek on the issue. He said typically, the sheriff's office does not ask people they deal with for proof of citizenship. They leave that to federal authorities.

Online reporter - Brady smith

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