By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger
Immigrants and supporters held a rally at the Capitol last week in opposition to Senate File 481, the so-called “anti-sanctuary cities” bill. Father Michael Amadeo of Des Moines spoke in opposition to the bill on behalf of Bishop Richard Pates, who chairs the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) Board of Directors.
The ICC opposes enforcement-only immigration legislation such as SF 481. Government has essentially two duties in the area of immigration. One is enforcement of the law for the sake of the common good. The other is to welcome the stranger out of charity and respect for the human person and the family. SF 481 is almost all enforcement and little charity. The ICC is asking for policies that are merciful.
Among other provisions, the bill requires local jails to comply with all requests from ICE (immigration control) to hold immigrants, even when federal law does not require it.
People would be held for possible deportation, even for relatively minor offenses, when they otherwise normally would get released. This may cause the separation of families and imposition of a penalty that is out-of-proportion to the wrong that has been done.
In addition, when local law enforcement officials participate in immigration enforcement notification programs such as detainers, they risk losing the local relationship and trust they have worked hard to build with the immigrant communities they serve.
The ICC supports the right of local governments to exercise reasonable and appropriate discretion in the handling of immigrant detainees, consistent with the need to maintain public safety. Send a message to your state representative in opposition of SF 481 at https://tinyurl.com/ybaanaov.
(Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)