IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — President Trump says his administration will begin large-scale deportations as soon as Thursday.
Law enforcement in Iowa City says it's not only against their job description to enforce immigration, but it's never been their priority.
Iowa City officials say they’re proud of their historically inviting and accommodating stance to people in the immigrant community.
“Our primary role is to protect everybody in our city—no matter who you are, where you’re from,” said Chief Jody Matherly, from the Iowa City Police Department. “We’re not going to put our resources into immigration enforcement.”
In 2017, Iowa City’s City Council creates a resolution, putting those sentiments in writing. It was a formal step in once again, reaffirming the City’s stance on being an inviting community to all people, regardless of their citizenship.
“But [the resolution] also said we’ll comply with state and federal laws,” said Matherly. “That’s why were not deemed a sanctuary city.”
That means that if Immigration and Customs Enforcement asks for the assistance of local law enforcement in a situation deemed “reasonable and necessary”—local enforcement is required to assist.
Iowa legislators passed a law in 2018 reiterating that.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said by federal law, his officers cannot enforce immigration—that requires federal training, which no one in his department has pursued.
“If there’s some sort of traffic issue that develops [as a result of an ICE raid] and they need us to block an intersection or something like that, we could do that,” said Pulkrabek. But aside from stepping in for issues like traffic blockages or public safety threats that may potentially spur from an event ICE is involved in, that’s about the extent that they can legally assist.
“It worries me when things like this get brought up because it scares the immigrant community,” said Pulkrabek. “We want them to understand if they’re victims of a crime, we want them to come forward. We want to help them.”
In an email statement to CBS2 news, Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton said he has the same stance as IC Police Chief Matherly.