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Swing-District Iowa Dem ‘Very Active’ in Group That Wants to Abolish ICE, Establish Sanctuary Cities

Christina Bohannan postures as moderate in competitive congressional run

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• December 9, 2021 12:00 pm

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A swing-district Iowa Democrat is "very active" in a group that works to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), end the deportation of illegal immigrants, and establish "sanctuary" cities throughout the state.

State legislator Christina Bohannan, who is running to unseat Republican congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, praised the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa (CWJ) during a 2020 candidate forum, saying she is "very active" in the liberal immigration group. Just months before the forum, CWJ called to abolish ICE, the federal entity responsible for immigration enforcement and terrorism prevention. The group has also worked to stop illegal immigrant deportations and "keep ICE out of Iowa" by fighting against a 2018 bill that revoked state funding from "sanctuary" cities that intentionally fail to enforce federal immigration law.

Bohannan's "active" involvement in CWJ could undermine the Democrat's attempt to recast herself as a moderate in her congressional campaign. After a Washington Free Beacon report found that Bohannan donated money to bail out illegal immigrants through Prairielands Freedom Fund—which aims to "melt ICE" and establish a "world without police"—the Democrat claimed she was unaware of the group's mission and has "never supported abolishing police or law enforcement." But according to Bohannan herself, her work with CWJ goes beyond a mere donation, casting doubt on whether she supports enforcing federal immigration law in Iowa.

Bohannan also touted an endorsement in 2020 from former CWJ executive director Rafael Morataya. In the months that followed his decision to back Bohannan, Morataya called to abolish both ICE and the police. Bohannan pledged to collaborate with Morataya as a state legislator and called the activist someone who "know[s] what it takes to deal with difficult issues."

CWJ did not return a request for comment. Bohannan told the Free Beacon she has "never supported abolishing ICE or law enforcement," adding that "any effort to insinuate otherwise is disingenuous and wrong."

Bohannan launched her bid to unseat Miller-Meeks in August. The Democrat's campaign announcement took on a moderate, bipartisan tone—Bohannan said she decided to run "because she believes we need less bickering in Washington, and more working together."

Prior to the announcement, however, Bohannan removed all policy positions from her 2020 state house campaign site, including one section that condemned Iowa's voter ID law as a "threat to democracy" and another that endorsed using taxpayer funds for "gender confirmation surgery for transgender individuals." Bohannan's new campaign page notes that she "enjoys running, hiking, and bike riding" but does not list detailed policy positions.

Bohannan joined the Iowa House of Representatives in January after she won a primary campaign against fellow Democrat and eight-year incumbent Vicki Lensing. Bohannan ran to Lensing's left, arguing for a "more progressive and less defensive attitude in the Iowa House."

While Bohannan's standing as a liberal insurgent proved successful in her deep-blue state house district, her progressive past is unlikely to play as well in Iowa's First Congressional District, which leans Republican, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Update 12/9/21 3:17 p.m.: This piece has been updated with comment from Christina Bohannan.

Published under: Democrats