Department Of Justice Warns It Will Sue Iowa Over Law Cracking Down On Illegal Immigration
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 16: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appears at a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on April 16, 2024 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

The Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) warned Iowa that it will sue the state if it enforces a recently passed law that seeks to crack down on illegal immigration.

The DOJ’s warning comes after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation last month that would make illegal reentry into the state an aggravated misdemeanor, empowering the state to arrest illegal immigrants.

“The Biden administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk,” Reynolds said after first signing the legislation. “Those who come into our country illegally have broken the law, yet Biden refuses to deport them.”

The Biden DOJ’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton responded to the legislation with a letter to Governor Kim Reynolds and Attorney General Brenna Bird, giving the state until May 7 to suspend the enforcement of the new law before the federal government steps in. Boynton argued that Iowa’s new law “is preempted by federal law and violates the United States Constitution” and that it “effectively creates a separate state immigration scheme,” which “intrudes into a field that is occupied by the federal government and is preempted.”

The state’s Attorney General Brenna Bird signaled that Iowa will not capitulate to the Biden administration’s request. “Iowa will not back down and stand by as our state’s safety hangs in the balance. If Biden refuses to stop the border invasion and keep our communities safe, Iowa will do the job for him.”

Governor Reynolds asserted that the law is only necessary because of the Biden administration’s unwillingness to secure the southern border. “The only reason we had to pass this law is because the Biden administration refuses to enforce the laws already on the books,” Reynolds contended. “I have a duty to protect the citizens of Iowa. Unlike the federal government, we will respect the rule of law and enforce it.”


The emerging feud between the Biden DOJ and the state of Iowa comes while Texas is embroiled in its own ongoing legal fight over a similar immigration law. The state’s Senate Bill 4, which also allows authorities to detain and charge those in the country illegally, has been the focus of legal battles with the federal government.

States like Iowa, Texas, and Georgia have passed legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration as the United States has witnessed an unprecedented crisis on the border, with officials recording over 9.5 million nationwide encounters and 1.7 million estimated illegal immigrant gotaways since Joe Biden took office. There were only 445,000 total reported gotaways for 2018, 2019, and 2020 under the Trump administration.

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