US and Iowa Flags in a Cornfield in Iowa
The flag of Iowa along with the United States' in a cornfield Reuters

The Department of Justice has sued the state of Iowa over its newly-approved law that allows local authorities to arrest and deport some migrants, The Associated Press reported.

Civil rights groups have sued the state as well, both parties arguing that federal law supersedes state law and therefore it should be declared invalid.

The law was first signed in April after being passed by the Republican-led Legislature. It allows Iowa officers to arrest undocumented immigrants who have previously been deported or barred from entering the country. If convicted, a judge could order that they be deported to their home country.

"We have brought this action to ensure that Iowa adheres to the framework adopted by Congress and the Constitution for regulation of immigration," said in a statement Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department's Civil Division.

The Iowa and national ACLU are among the civil rights group suing the state. "Iowa lawmakers knowingly targeted people who are protected by federal immigration laws and who are legally allowed to be here," said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director of The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.

In contrast, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said the state would push forward and that the state is being forced to implement these measures as a result of the federal government's lack of immigration enforcement.

"Iowa's law is not unique; it simply enforces immigration laws while Biden refuses to. Iowa stands ready to defend our immigration law that keeps Iowa communities safe," said the state official in a statement of her own.

Similarly, Gov. Kim Reynolds stated that the state needed the law due to the current administration's poor record on immigration enforcement. "I have a duty to protect the citizens of Iowa. Unlike the federal government, we will respect the rule of law and enforce it," she said in a statement provided to the Des Moines Register.

The lawsuit does not come as a surprise, as the DOJ had already warned Iowa if it didn't backtrack. In a prior letter, the DOJ's Boynton explained that the law is preempted by federal law and hence violates the U.S. Constitution. It had set a May 7 deadline for authorities to do so before taking action.

Iowa is just one of the several conservative-led states to do pass such measures. The most notorious one is Texas' SB4, as the controversial bill is known, which creates a Class B misdemeanor for illegal entry that can be punished with up to 180 days in county jail and/or fine up to $2,000. A repeated offense is elevated to a state jail felony. That law is currently on hold while local authorities spar with the federal government in the courts over its enforceability.

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