‘Invalid’: Biden-Appointed Judge Temporarily Blocks Iowa’s Effort To Crack Down On Illegal Immigrants

June 18, 2024 3:58 PM ET

A federal judge temporarily blocked Iowa on Monday from cracking down on illegal immigrants through a recently-signed law.

District Court Judge Stephen Locher, a Biden appointee, ruled Monday that the federal government’s constitutional authority to craft immigration policy preempts the state’s law. The law, which was enacted in April by Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, gives local law enforcement the authority to seek criminal penalties against illegal immigrants with standing deportation orders, or those who had been previously denied entry into the U.S.

“As a matter of politics, the new legislation might be defensible. As a matter of constitutional law, it is not,” Locher’s ruling says. “Under binding Supreme Court precedent, Senate File 2340 is preempted in its entirety by federal law and thus is invalid under the Supremacy Clause.”

Bill SF 2340 was slated to take effect July 1, and was crafted in response to the illegal immigration crisis under President Joe Biden, where over six million migrants have been encountered since 2021.

Refuges arrive at the Plattsburgh, New York, bus station before heading to the Roxham border crossing into Canada, on March 25, 2023. – The Roxham Road crossing closed at midnight March 24, as Canadian and US media reported that Canada will be able to turn back illegal migrants at the crossing point on the frontier between New York state and Quebec. (Photo by LARS HAGBERG/AFP via Getty Images)

“Iowa is not trying to enforce any unique interest, but rather is trying to help (or, one might say, to compel) the United States to carry out federal immigration laws,” Locher concluded. “The federal interest remains just as paramount in this circumstance as it would be if the federal and state laws diverged.”

“With this injunction states are left defenseless to the ongoing crisis at our southern border,” Reynolds said in response to the ruling.

The Iowa law is similar to a measure enacted in Texas, which would allow state law enforcement to arrest and detain suspected illegal immigrants. A federal appeals court put it on hold in March.

The state intends to appeal the decision, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said Monday.

“I am disappointed in today’s court decision that blocks Iowa from stopping illegal reentry and keeping our communities safe,” Bird said. “Since Biden refuses to secure our borders, he has left states with no choice but to do the job for him.”