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Iowa defends immigration law that allows local officials to arrest people told to leave US

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defended its new immigration law on Monday and argued that the state’s ability to file criminal charges against people did not infringe on federal authority over immigration because local officials would abide by all federal regulations.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of civil rights groups are seeking a temporary or permanent injunction of the law, which goes into effect July 1 unless it’s blocked by the courts. The law is similar to one in Texas, which has been temporarily blocked, and another in Oklahoma that the DOJ is seeking to stop.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Locher said “I’ll do my best” to rule quickly on the injunction request. Locher noted the likelihood his ruling would be appealed, calling it the “first step along this journey.”

The Iowa law would allow criminal charges to be brought against people who have outstanding deportation orders or who previously have been removed from or denied admission to the U.S. Once in custody, migrants could either agree to a judge’s order to leave the U.S. or be prosecuted, potentially facing time in prison before deportation.

Patrick Valencia, Iowa’s deputy solicitor general, told the judge that the state’s law wouldn’t establish new immigration rules but only allow state law enforcement and courts to apply federal law.

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