On Wednesday, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban sanctuary cities and require local law enforcement agents to cooperate with federal immigration authorities such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The bill passed 69-47 along party lines in the Republican-controlled House, reported NBC News. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Cord Byrd, a Republican representing the Jacksonville Beach area.
Last week, in an interview on Fox Business Network, Byrd said that the bill would allow for transparency between federal and local law enforcement.
“Here’s the problem: Our state and local law enforcement officers don’t have access to the federal indices, so we don’t know if that person in Florida is using an alias,” Byrd said. “They may have committed a serious violent crime in another state, been deported, and now have come back into the United States. We see that scenario over and over and over. So before we release this potentially dangerous person back into our communities, we want to know whether or not the federal immigration authorities have reason to detain this person further.”
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) April 18, 2019
According to the bill, local governments will be fined $5,000 each day they do not comply with the ban, reported The Hill.
A similar bill in the Florida Senate is currently pending.
Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing for an amendment that would allow him to “initiate judicial proceedings in the name of the state” against local governments which do not cooperate with federal immigration officials, reported CBS Miami.
“The governor is supportive of this measure which reiterated his constitutional authority to remove an executive or administrative state, county or municipal” officer for violating state law, said Helen Ferre, a spokeswoman for DeSantis.
Cue the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Following the passage of the bill, the ACLU issued a travel alert for Florida if the bill indeed becomes law.
“If Florida State Bill 168 and House Bill 527 pass, it would undermine local governments’ ability to protect the civil rights of their residents by forcing local officials to cooperate with ICE,” the ACLU wrote in a statement. “It would also put immigrants at risk of violence, potentially forcing victims and witnesses to stay silent for fear of deportation.”
“Both Florida residents, citizens and non-citizens, and travelers could face risks of being racially profiled and being detained without probable cause,” the statement added.
The bill sparked protests around Florida, including in the state’s capital, Tallahassee, reported ABC WWSB.
Miami police chief Jorge Colina says he opposes the bill because he claims it would stop people from reporting crimes for fear of being turned over to immigration authorities.
“The truth is I’d prefer not to have this job if I have to ask fellow officers to go check where someone came from before helping them,” Colina said, reported the Miami Herald.
Florida reportedly does not currently have any “sanctuary cities” — unlike many other large states which have major cities that are formally declared to be sanctuary cities, including New York City, San Francisco, Seattle.