Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Florida legislature passes bill outlawing sanctuary cities

Florida is on the verge of signing onto one of President Trump’s top priorities — outlawing so-called sanctuary cities that offer protections to undocumented residents.

The Florida Senate voted 22-18 on Friday to approve a bill that requires state, county and city agencies to work with federal immigration authorities. A similar bill passed the House earlier this week.

State lawmakers took up the issue even though there are no sanctuary jurisdictions in Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. “This bill is about respecting the rule of law,” said Sen. Joe Gruters, who sponsored the legislation and also chairs the Republican Party of Florida, “it’s about cooperating with the federal government, and it’s about promoting public safety.”

The Florida Democratic Party characterized the bill differently in a statement released after the vote; “This is a shameful and dark day in the history of our state,” Luisana Pérez, party spokeswoman, said. The House and Senate still need to iron out differences in their bills if it is going to become law.

Under the proposal, counties and cities would be required to use their “best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.” The House version of the bill allows local officials deemed to be “sanctuary policymakers” to be fined up to $5,000 a day.

The bill also requires local jails to fully comply with requests to hold inmates for federal immigration authorities. However, Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina told a Spanish-language radio program that he’d quit his job if his officers were required to check the immigration status of people they encounter.

The proposal spurred emotional debate and boisterous protests in a state where one out of every five residents is foreign-born. The ACLU has issued a travel alert warning to visitors saying they could “face risks of being racially profiled and being detained without probable cause” if the sanctuary city legislation becomes law.