The Daily Iowan

Shaw: SF 481 should be repealed to prevent discrimination, increase public safety

The new SF 481 law is awful and plainly unnecessary, and it should be repealed. It will not actually make any huge changes in public safety and will instead cause discrimination to run rampant.

Nichole Shaw, [email protected]

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A new law, Senate File 481, took effect on July 1 in Iowa. The law has been coined an “anti-sanctuary cities” measure because it requires local law enforcement to comply and cooperate with federal immigration-law policies and practices.

Accordingto the Des Moines Register, “Iowa cities and counties that intentionally violate federal immigration law will have their state funding revoked.”

This hits close to home for Johnson County residents, because Iowa City could be considered a sanctuary city. Even though city officials have not directly categorized it as a sanctuary city, the town is known for its welcoming nature toward all people regardless of race, skin color, ethnicity, and so forth.

The “sanctuary law” should be repealed because it intends to instill fear in communities and turns away immigrants seeking asylum from the awful treatment they receive from ICE. Because of the Trump administration’s new deportation methods and immigration policies, a new wave of profiling and outright discrimination has emerged. Countless videos have gone viral of Americans orally and physically assaulting citizens of the United States, simply because of their racial appearance, skin color, and pride in other countries and nations.

SF 481 can directly lead to an uptick in these actions because it creates an unwelcoming message for immigrants. Americans will adopt a racial fear toward those they believe look “un-American” and consequently judge them because of their appearance.

According to NPR, “A new study conducted by Tom K. Wong, a political scientist at the University of California-San Diego, found that there are broad benefits for local jurisdictions that resist cooperating with federal immigration enforcement — they are safer in the aggregate and enjoy stronger economies … On average, counties that did not comply with ICE requests experienced 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people than those that did. Wong also found that counties that did not comply with detainer requests had higher household incomes, lower rates of unemployment, lower rates of poverty, and were less likely to have children under 18 in households receiving public benefits.”

According to the Register, “Supporters say the new law will maintain public safety and uphold the rule of law.” But how could this law help maintain public safety when studies statistically show that counties rejecting federal immigration policies and ICE experienced dramatic decreases in crime?

That these sanctuary cities are safer and more socially integrated shows that laws such as SF 481 are just harmful, of poor quality, and unnecessary.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has pledged to begin upholding federal immigration law and now, SF 481. Iowa City already abides by the policies and requirements listed in SF 481 despite being labeled as a sanctuary city.

Iowa City police public-information Sgt. Derek Frank told The Daily Iowan in a previous article, “We don’t expect any changes as to how we do our jobs at the Police Department.”

Therefore, the ultimate effect of this law will be minimal. However, what the law will largely affect is contentment in local cities and government. SF 481 aims to invoke fear among undocumented residents and sparks racial fear in Americans.

My concern is not that this bill is ineffective in being able to actually increase public safety or make much of a difference in law-enforcement practices. My concern is that the big picture people will take away from this law is that immigrants are unwelcome in their communities. My concern is that the big picture people will take away from this law is that immigrants are unwelcome in their communities, and prejudice and discrimination will follow from this wrongful, preconceived notion of what it means to be an American.

America is a country founded on people of all races, skin colors, religions, ethnicities, and so on. This law will encourage people to judge based on appearance, rather than actual being. That is why this law should be repealed.

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About the Writer
Nichole Shaw, Opinion Columnist

Nichole Shaw is an opinion columnist at The Daily Iowan, writing about culture and systemic oppression of different populations. She is a sophomore at the UI majoring in journalism and English on a publishing track.

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