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Federal judge blocks Iowa law that allowed the arrest of some undocumented immigrants

By Andy Rose, CNN

(CNN) — A federal judge blocked an Iowa law that would have allowed the arrest of some undocumented migrants in the state after both the federal government and a migrant advocacy group sued.

In the Monday ruling, District Court Judge Stephen H. Locher said only the federal government has the constitutional ability to make US immigration policy.

“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 wrote.

The law – Senate File 2340 – which was set to go into effect July 1, made it a crime to be in the state after being deported, denied admission to the United States or have an outstanding deportation order.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed the law in April, saying it was a response to a lack of immigration enforcement from President Joe Biden and the federal government.

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

In his ruling, Locher noted the Iowa law would allow law enforcement to arrest immigrants who have a pending appeal of their federal deportation order. “The point is clear: Senate File 2340 does not permit federal immigration law to run its course,” wrote Locher.

The Iowa legislation is similar to a measure passed in Texas that would allow state law enforcement to arrest and detain suspected illegal immigrants. A federal appeals court put the Texas law on hold in March.

The state measures come as immigration continues to be a hot-button issue for voters during this election season, with Republicans weaponizing high levels of illegal border crossings against Democrats, particularly Biden, and both parties sparring over measures to secure the southern border.

Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, called the ruling “a good first step,” but added, “The fight continues!”

The state will appeal the decision, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said.

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

CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji and Alexandra Ross contributed to this report.

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