WASHINGTON — Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is taking part in a Judiciary Committee hearing today on so-called sanctuary cities and their impact on public safety.

Iowa banned sanctuary cities and counties with passage of a state law last year that revokes state funding to places that violate federal immigration law. Still, Grassley says sanctuary jurisdictions are a worry in Iowa — and across the country.

Grassley says, “There may be law outlawing it in Iowa, but I think you’re going to find a lot of sheriffs in Iowa cautious about how they handle requests from the federal government.” He’s quick to point out that action — or inaction — by Iowa law officers isn’t based on their personal politics, but more on fear of litigation.

Grassley says, “We’ve had organizations that go to court, let’s say they might be something like the ACLU as an example, threatening lawsuits if sheriffs cooperated with ICE and other immigration officials.” While Iowa City has pronounced itself as a safe haven to people who are in the U.S. illegally, city leaders have not designated the community as a formal sanctuary. The Iowa City city council vowed not to commit local resources to enforcing federal immigration law, which prompted passage of the 2018 state law against sanctuaries.

Grassley says sanctuary proclamations elsewhere continue to be a concern. “You have an instance I think last week, the governor of California got somebody out of prison through his executive powers,” Grassley says. “He did it for the sole purpose so they wouldn’t be extradited and put out of our country.”

Under the Iowa law, which took effect on July 1st of 2018, cities and counties are forbidden from prohibiting or discouraging law enforcement officers or other employees from “assisting or cooperating with a federal immigration officer as reasonable or necessary, including providing enforcement assistance.”