The ACLU of Iowa is committed to making sure that all people—regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, or immigration status—are treated fairly under the law.

Preventing racial profiling by law enforcement

We oppose “show me your papers” type laws. This includes Iowa state legislation that would have required local police to collect data on citations and arrests, but only on immigrants. That meant officers would have asked people to show documentation of citizenship.

Opposing E-Verify

We spoke out against Iowa lawmakers who wanted to require Iowa employers to use E-Verify, the federal government’s Internet-based system that attempts to verify the work eligibility of individuals. E-Verify is error-prone, expensive, and invasive.

Oppose so-called "anti-sanctuary cities" efforts 

We support efforts to make sure that immigrants of all documentation statuses are treated fairly and receive due process under the law. In Iowa, this has played out as local law enforcement choosing to, or not choosing to, comply with federal ICE detainer requests. These detainer requests ask county jails to hold people—without a warrant or probable cause of crime—to hold someone longer than already authorized, in violation of the constitution, so that ICE can further determine their immigration status and possibly take the person into federal custody. Too often, people—including some American citizens—are wrongly held in jail. Being held in jail not only is expensive, but can cost you your job, custody of your children, and more. 

Advocated for the eligibility of DACA recipients for driver’s licenses

In 2013, along with fellow advocates, organizers and movement leaders, we pressured the Iowa Department of Transportation to give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients eligibility for driver’s licenses. It later reversed a previous decision that would have banned immigrant youth from roads across the state.

State v. Martinez

In 2017, we helped secure an immigrants’ rights win at the Iowa Supreme Court in State v. Martinez. Martha Martinez was an Iowa Dreamer brought to the U.S. to live in Iowa when she was just 11. She came out of the shadows as an adult with four U.S. citizen children to try to obtain legal authorization. But when she did that, in a terrible bait and switch, a local county prosecutor tried to take everything away. The Iowa Supreme Court issued a sounding rebuke to the Muscatine County Attorney for illegally prosecuting a Dreamer for her employment in conflict with federal law.

United States v. Milan-Vazquez

In 2013, with the national ACLU Immigrants Rights Project, we filed an amicus brief in United States v. Millan-Vasquez, a successful case before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in which we challenged the denial of bail to an immigrant based on the presence of an ICE detainer or previous order of deportation alone. After the case was remanded, the district court released Millan-Vasquez on bail.

Fought a proposed voter purge that would improperly target U.S. citizens

The ACLU of Iowa and Iowa LULAC filed a lawsuit to stop the Secretary of State from undertaking an unreliable process to remove registered voters if they could not prove their U.S. citizenship within a limited time.