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Newscast 6.18.2024: Judge strikes down Iowa immigration enforcement law; Rainwater deluge continues to create problems for Okoboji lakes; North High pool could be axed in Sioux City

High water conditions are shown along the shoreline of West Lake Okoboji in Dickinson County, Iowa, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Photo by John Heath)
High water conditions are shown along the shoreline of West Lake Okoboji in Dickinson County, Iowa, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Photo by John Heath)

A federal judge in Des Moines has temporarily blocked enforcement of Iowa’s immigration law making “illegal reentry” a state crime.      

U.S. District Judge Stephen Locher on Monday wrote that Iowa’s immigration law is unconstitutional and conflicts with federal immigration laws. The law is now on hold pending further court proceedings.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird said she was disappointed in the decision and plans to appeal it.

The law would allow state officials to arrest and deport immigrants who were previously deported or denied entry to the U.S. It was set to take effect July 1.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice filed two lawsuits in May seeking to block the law from being enforced.

Emma Winger with the American Immigration Council said the court was right to block the law, because it could’ve subjected some immigrants with permanent legal status to arrest and deportation.

In other news, as heavy amounts of rain are impacting Siouxland river and lake levels, they are so high in the Okoboji lakes area that boaters will have to drive very slowly.

The Dickinson County Emergency Management Commission held an emergency meeting on Monday, and the members voted unanimously to put the emergency 5 mph maximum speed rule into effect until further notice.

Boats in any Dickinson County lake are not allowed to exceed 5 mph within 600 feet of the shoreline, so as to not create any wakes, to comply with the county’s high-water plan.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources officers will be enforcing the no-wake rule. The Dickinson County commission will meet again on Friday, to review the high water situation at the Iowa Great Lakes.

This comes on the heels of some other news in the Okoboji area, as heavy rainfall and power outages in northwest Iowa led to multiple wastewater discharges in the Iowa Great Lakes area on Monday.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Field Office in Spencer was notified early Monday morning of a wastewater bypass occurring at a lift station just south of Manhattan Point on the west side of West Lake Okoboji.

The Iowa Great Lakes Sanitary District pumped down the lift station and hauled as much wastewater as possible to the treatment plant to minimize the bypass. Officials estimated that about 10 gallons per minute of untreated wastewater flowed into the lake. All drinking water systems and a nearby resort were notified, as well as residents in the vicinity of the bypass. Area officials said that discharge ended after several hours about noon Monday.

A second wastewater bypass occurred near the Francis Site of East Lake Okoboji.

Additionally, Sioux City School District officials are in discussions on reducing the number of swimming pools in the high schools from three to one.

In a Monday facilities committee meeting, they discussed maintaining only the pool at West High School, which could mean closing the one at North High, as a cost saving measure. The pool at East High is currently inoperable due to mechanical problems.

The pools are more than 50 years old, as the high schools opened in 1972.

Superintendent Rod Earleywine told Siouxland Public Media News that it costs about $50,000 to maintain each pool for a year, plus one estimate shows that about $200,000 in upgrades are needed at each pool.

He said the West High School pool is the best option to be kept operable for upcoming years. It is currently used for team swimming competitions.

The Sioux City School Board members could discuss the pools decision at their next meeting on June 24.