Iowa City says resolution doesn't violate new sanctuary city law - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City says resolution doesn't violate new sanctuary city law

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

One city said it has no plans to change anything after its resolution inspired a new law that bans sanctuary cities in the state.

On Tuesday, Governor Kim Reynolds signed SF 481 into law which bans sanctuary communities. However, there are no official sanctuary cities in the state.

The bill was in response to a resolution adopted by the Iowa City City Council back in January of 2017. The resolution said the city wouldn't commit local resources to help federal agents enforce immigration laws, with public safety being the exception.

"With that resolution, the council didn't change any operations that are occurring in the city. They simply reaffirmed what the role of our local law enforcement is and that is truly a public safety role. Our police officers are out there looking to protect and serve the community. They're not immigration officers. They're not trained to be immigration officers. They're not equipped to be doing that," said Iowa City City Manager, Geoff Fruin.

Under the new Iowa law, local entities cannot adopt a policy that discourages the enforcement of immigration laws. Violation of the law would mean the loss of state funding. Fruin said the current Iowa City resolution doesn't do that.

"We will comply with it and thus we don't feel there's any risk at all that we would lose state funds," he said.

In a previous interview with KWWL, Iowa City Police Chief, Jody Matherly, said he was against the bill. Matherly also spoke out against the bill to the subcommittee.

"This will not help policing at all. It will erode trust and confidence in law enforcement, and we're concerned," Chief Matherly said in January.

Matherly has said his department was in compliance with the law, which requires that individuals booked in jail are fingerprinted. That information then can be checked against immigration databases.

"We had a drunk driving arrest last week and, for whatever reason, ICE decided to come the next day to take possession, take custody of that OWI arrest. The system works. It was timely. It was reported. Nothing needs to change. The way we do policing in Iowa is not broken, and to reach out and change is going to be counter-productive for everybody," he said.

Matherly said the Iowa City resolution helped witnesses and victims of crimes feel safe to come forward with information. 

The new law, inspired by that resolution, will now make that a more difficult challenge, according to both Matherly and Fruin.

"Hopefully, we can break down any obstacles that this bill may cause," Fruin said.

Fruin said, at this time, there are no plans for the city council to revisit or amend the resolution.

"I don't think they regret adopting that. They're really expressing their values. We're not compromising our values as a community. We will comply with the law, but our values remain the same. I don't think there's any regret about what happened," he said.

The new law goes into effect July 1.

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