MASON CITY, Iowa - A new bill aiming to ban sanctuary cities in Iowa has cleared the House Public Safety Committee and is now heading to the House for debate.
Senate File 481, if passed, would require law enforcement to follow federal immigration laws, and withhold state funding if cities don't comply.
Jim Whitty, a Virginia resident who is visiting relatives in North Iowa, says that states should have the ability to welcome undocumented immigrants, but they must follow the law, regardless of status.
"If they're illegal, they're illegal. I don't understand what the problem with the word is. If you come here legally, welcome. If you assimilate to the country, welcome. If you come here illegally, you gotta go. Simple as that," Whitty says.
However, Mason City pastor Chuck Kelsey of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, says that the order goes completely against what legislators are called to do and won't change the church's status on helping those in need.
"We'll remain a sanctuary, and if there's a need, we'll protect people along the way. But I think the legislators are way overstepping what they should be doing. It should be opening doors rather than closing the doors to people," Kelsey says.
The committee voted in favor of sending the bill to the House for debate 11-10.