HF 2156 Opens the Door for Racial Profiling in Iowa

Mandatory use of E-Verify system redundant, burdensome and a distraction


We spoke out against the latest anti-immigrant bill introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives today.

House File 2156 follows the lead of failed policies from Arizona and Alabama, targeting immigrants and imposing bureaucratic burdens on businesses, local law enforcement and Iowa taxpayers.

HF 2156 means Iowa employers would be obligated to take part in the E-Verify program, checking Social Security numbers against a federal database to assure that employees have legal authorization to work in the United States.

The bill also requires the state attorney general to spend time and effort wading through all complaints, anonymous or not, regarding possible employment of undocumented workers – a policy that has led to (or could lead to) racial profiling and harassment of minorities.

“We already have a system in place where employers can check whether folks are eligible to work or not,” said Iowa CCI Action member Stephanie Simmons. “We have laws that require employers to check this. To me, it sounds like a red herring to distract us from the real issues affecting our state, like factory farm pollution and corporate greed,” she said.

If HF 2156 passes, Iowa would assume the added responsibility of devoting resources to doing the job of federal agencies and opens up the Attorney General’s office to racial profiling complaints.

“The state has nothing to do with federal immigration enforcement and Iowa’s legislators should not mix the two. I’m worried that this bill will encourage discrimination against Latinos. You cannot tell someone’s immigration status by looking at their face. Just because someone is Latino does not mean they are undocumented,” said Iowa CCI Action member Maria Romero.

Iowa CCI Action is working in a coalition of faith groups, human rights groups, and others to stop Arizona-like anti-immigrant bills. Until implemented in the context of comprehensive immigration reform, HF2156 means botched policies, extra liabilities on the local economy and an extremely high human cost, creating a hostile climate for families in our communities. Legislators’ time would be better served supporting immigration reform at the federal level that provides a pathway for citizenship.

We don’t want to be like Arizona,” Simmons said. “As a community and as a state, we should be focusing our efforts on more important things. This seems like a big waste of time.”


6 reasons why House File 2156 l is bad news for Iowans:

  • It’s redundant: It is already illegal for employers to hire unauthorized workers: I-9 employment eligibility forms are already in place to enforce this provision.
  • It’s bad for local resources: It would squander state resources on doing the job of federal agencies. Iowa Attorney General Chief of Staff Eric Tabor said HF 2156 would impose a “substantial burden” on the attorney general, the county attorney and on the police.
  • It’s bad for the economy: If it had been mandatory in 2010, E-Verify would have cost over $2 billion to small businesses. When enacted in Georgia, mandatory E-Verify cost $391 million in lost ag profits, due to a 40 percent worker shortage.
  • It relies on glitchy technology: a 2010 report submitted to the US Department of Homeland Security found that E-Verify failed to detect unauthorized workers over 50 percent of the time. E-Verify has also been proven up to 50 times more likely to provide erroneous results in the case of lawful permanent residents and naturalized US citizens.
  • It’s bad for our community: The misuse of E-Verify would let unscrupulous employers violate antidiscrimination laws, opening the door to racial profiling and harassment of minorities. It would diminish trust between authorities and immigrant communities. Our diverse communities keep Iowa vibrant and alive! HF 2156 would destroy that.
  • It distracts from the real issues affecting real Iowans, such as wage theft, corporate greed, factory farm pollution and the corrosive influence of big money in our democracy.


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