Johnson County supervisors discuss sanctuary city law - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Johnson County supervisors discuss sanctuary city law

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A new Iowa law that bans sanctuary cities in the state is now days away from going into effect, but the discussion isn't over for the eastern Iowa county that is said to have inspired the legislation.

Last year, the Johnson County supervisors and Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek released a joint statement on its position on immigration enforcement.

“The Johnson County Sheriff will not honor voluntary detainer requests, nor will the Sheriff’s Office assist United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) in immigration enforcement raids," it said.

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.

On Thursday morning, the county discussed at length, for over an hour, about how to respond to the new law.

"Very disappointed," supervisor Janelle Rettig said.

During the course of the meeting, Rettig was frustrated with the direction of the conversation on how the county would react to the new law.

"We are willingly changing our policy to follow the detainer request to detain people without a warrant for their arrest?" Rettig asked to Susie Nehring, the assistant county attorney.

Nehring ran the presentation for the supervisors outlining the new law and compliance with it. She told Rettig they were changing the policy to comply with both the federal law and, now, the new state law.

"We think that it is in the best interest of the country to go ahead and be in compliance of this law, but to do our very best at continuing to treat people in the same manner that we have," Nehring said.

That was to the disappointment of Rettig, who expressed interest in challenging the law.

"Wouldn't we have been in a better position to protect people's civil liberties and then let them challenge us and see where it led?" Rettig asked.

Pulkrabek stated that challenging the law was up to the lawyers, saying his department would comply with the law.

"Probable cause is recognized under federal law as a warrant so we're following the law as both on a federal level, and as we are required on the state level. I get that you want to argue the semantics of it, but we have to be compliant with the law," he said.

Pulkrabek added that the department has a good standing relationship with ICE and that he didn't expect to see much of any change, but noted that the possibility is there.

Rettig also openly expressed concern about detainer requests that would hold an individual past the 48-hour mark before a warrant was issued.

Nehring also said, when the 48-hour time frame starts to run up, the department was accustomed to notifying ICE that time was running out for the holding period.

Noncompliance of the law would result in the loss of state funding. The county pointed out frequently during the meeting that the state didn't note what funding would be at risk.

The ban on so-called sanctuary cities goes into effect July 1.

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