A controversial bill was just signed into law at the Iowa State Legislature, and it has been met with disapproval by police chiefs around the state, including Perry Police Chief Eric Vaughn.
Senate File 481 forbids communities from deeming themselves “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants. Under the new law, cities and law enforcement agencies who don’t cooperate with federal authorities in matters of crimes committed by undocumented citizens will lose all state funding. Vaughn says strictly speaking there are no “sanctuary cities” in Iowa, and he believes all the law does is discourage immigrants from assisting local law enforcement.
“For me, especially living here in Perry and being the police chief here, (I’m) just a little concerned that it’s going to put a little bit of fear into some of these undocumented citizens. They might not feel as comfortable or safe to come forward with information. Whether they be a victim or witness of a crime, they’re just going to be reluctant to come forward and give us information in fear that they might be detained or something like that.”
Vaughn emphasizes that his department has always cooperated with immigration officers, so he’s not worried about losing state funding. His primary concern is the law making it harder for he and his officers to do their jobs. Vaughn points out that the law specifically states that local law enforcement isn’t allowed to ask about the nationality of victims or witnesses of crimes, unless it’s pertinent to the investigation. As such, he assures concerned individuals that they shouldn’t be deterred from reporting crimes or assisting in cases.
SF481 passed through the House and Senate along party lines, and was signed into law Tuesday by Governor Kim Reynolds.