Florida Legislature Passes Ban On Sanctuary Cities

Florida just moved that much closer to enshrining into state law a ban against so-called sanctuary cities, forcing local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration efforts.

The state Senate voted to pass a bill on Friday that would prohibit sanctuary policies, which generally allow jurisdictions to refuse to aid in federal immigrant detention and deportation actions.

It would require state and local law enforcement to use their “best efforts” to support federal immigration enforcement, and any officials who don’t comply would be “subject to action by the Governor.”

Under the measure, for instance, local governments would have to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s requests to detain people suspected of being undocumented immigrants in local jails until ICE officers come to get them, as The New York Times noted.

The state House passed a version of the bill earlier this week. With passage in the state Senate ― in a 22-18 vote, with all Democrats voting against it ― the bill now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it.

The Republican governor won his election last year with President Donald Trump’s backing. In a campaign ad, DeSantis’ daughter appeared to be building a wall with toy blocks, presumably meant to echo Trump’s calls for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Florida is among the top five states with the most immigrants in the country, with more than 4 million immigrants in the state in 2014, making up over 20% of the total population. It currently has no so-called sanctuary cities.  

Immigrant rights activists in Miramar, Florida, held signs protesting the "anti-sanctuary" bills moving through the Florida L

Immigrant rights activists in Miramar, Florida, held signs protesting the “anti-sanctuary” bills moving through the Florida Legislature on April 10.

The Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said the legislation would have “real and harmful consequences to immigrant families, communities of color.”

“Forcing Florida law enforcement to implement ICE’s broken detainer system will disrupt the lives of Floridians all across the state,” Executive Director Micah Kubic said in a statement to HuffPost ahead of the Senate vote. “It will result in unlawfully detaining US Citizens and people of color and tear families apart in Florida.”  

“Local law enforcement should be focused on protecting and serving local communities — not on enforcing federal immigration law,” Kubic added.

Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami, who was the only one from her party to side with Democrats against the bill, told The New York Times ahead of the vote that her “incredibly diverse district” has “a lot of migrant communities, a lot of farmworkers.”

“I also think that there’s a responsibility to represent your community as a Hispanic woman,” Flores said. “And to understand that in my family’s situation, but for unique laws that were in place for Cubans when my parents came, they could have very well been undocumented immigrants.”

Earlier this month, Trump said he was “giving strong considerations” to releasing detained immigrants into sanctuary cities as retaliation against Democratic lawmakers.

The Trump administration has a long record of anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, and has broadened its crackdown on illegal immigration, making all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. ― not just those with criminal histories ― targets for deportation.

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