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Iowa lawmakers passed a bill last week that would make it a crime to enter the state after being deported or denied entry to the U.S. It holds similarities to a controversial Texas law. AFP

Iowa lawmakers passed a bill last week that would make it a crime to enter the state after being deported or denied entry to the United States. The bill is now at the desk of Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, who said she plans to sign it.

The bill would make it a misdemeanor for someone to enter Iowa if they were previously deported, denied entry to the United States or left the country while facing a deportation order, The New York Times reported. Iowa police officers would not be allowed to make arrests under this legislation at schools, places of worship or health care facilities.

The passage also puts Iowa on track to join Texas in enforcing immigration outside the federal system.

"President Biden and his administration have failed to enforce our immigration laws and, in doing so, have compromised the sovereignty of our nation and the safety of its people," Gov. Reynolds said last week. "States have stepped in to secure the border, preventing illegal migrants from entering our country and protecting our citizens."

If Reynolds signs the measure, it would take effect July 1, according to The Hill.

The bill was passed by Iowa Republicans, who hold the majority of power in the state's legislature. Democrats, on the other hand opposed the bill but were powerless to stop it.

"The bill is a political stunt and a false promise that doesn't contain the needed resources," State senator Janice Weiner, a Democrat from the Iowa City area, said when her chamber debated the measure. "It's a gotcha bill."

About 6 percent of people in Iowa were born outside the United States.

The bill comes at a period of heightened tensions between conservative state legislatures and the federal government in regard to immigration. Several Republican-led states, including Iowa, for insurance, have sent National Guard troops and law enforcement officers to Texas to support Gov. Greg Abbot's increasingly assertive approach to policing the border.

The Iowa bill resembles a Texas anti-immigration law, which has been considered one of the most harsh measures in the country in over a decade. Texas S.B. 4, as it is known, allows the state to imprison an illegal immigrant for 20 years or deport them. It also allows Texas law enforcement to search and detain any person suspected of crossing into the state illegally.

Critics of the Texas bill say the law could lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling, and the Mexican government has already said it will not accept any deportations from the Texas government, The Hill reports.

The Biden administration has also called out the Texas law, which until Tuesday had been blocked by the courts, an unconstitutional infringement on federal authority over immigration. The courts have not yet weighed in on the merits of this Texas measure.

The White House last week called the Texas law "another example of Republican officials politicizing the border while blocking real solutions."

Although the Iowa bill is less harsh, it could also face its own legal challenges. At the same time, its approval by state lawmakers shows growing willingness from Republican officials to take on immigration issues that were long the exclusive domain of federal law enforcement.

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