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Iowa Coalitions Support Immigrant Families

DES MOINES—The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA) and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) are deeply concerned about House Study Bill 67 (HSB 67) and the impact it would have on Iowa’s immigrant community and their families. The bill, if enacted, would prohibit cities, counties, and public schools and universities from providing sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

Already, local officials in Iowa City have “adopted a policy that denies allocation of local resources to federal immigration enforcement,” as reported by the Des Moines Register ( In addition, the Register reported yesterday (February 7) that “Des Moines Public Schools will act as ‘sanctuaries’ for undocumented students, barring staff from asking about their immigration status...” (

IowaCASA and ICADV fear that anti-sanctuary laws in Iowa would force immigrant survivors of sexual violence and domestic assault out of their Iowa communities where they have found support and safety.

“As anti-violence organizations, we know that oppression is one of the root causes of sexual violence and domestic assault,” said Beth Barnhill, Executive Director for IowaCASA. “As coalitions that regularly work with immigrant communities, we have a responsibility to challenge

discriminatory policies, practices, and procedures that marginalize, exclude, or dehumanize others. As such, we stand with Iowa’s immigrant communities and will continue to support immigrant survivors in any way we possibly can.”

“Our coalitions and our member programs will continue to collectively and intentionally work to end policies that negatively impact Iowa’s immigrant communities and their families,” added Laurie Schipper, Executive Director for ICADV. “This kind of discriminatory and unnecessary legislation makes it more difficult for immigrant survivors to find the support and help they need. We must do better to protect and support immigrant survivors, many of whom have fled to Iowa from countries where violence is all too prevalent to begin with.”

Both coalitions have encouraged crisis centers for both sexual violence and domestic assault to support immigrant survivors seeking services. As a general rule, advocates who provide resources to survivors do not ask about current immigration status.

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