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State GOP Targets ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Even Though There Are None in Florida

| February 10, 2019

sanctuary cities florida

Huddled masses yearning to breathe free. (Capital News Service)

The long-shot efforts by Florida Republicans to ban so-called sanctuary cities in the state may have a better chance this year, as key GOP lawmakers align to push legislation that Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised to sign into state law.

At the center of the current effort is Sen. Joe Gruters, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, who has made prohibiting local governments from acting as “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants a priority this legislative session.

“Not only is this the right thing to do from my party’s perspective, but the right thing to do for Florida,” Gruters, R-Sarasota, told The News Service of Florida on Friday. “This is my top priority.”

Critics of the bill argue efforts to outlaw “sanctuary cities” have more to do with partisanship than with thwarting an existing problem. Currently, there are no counties or cities in Florida that act as “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants.

But as immigration policies fuel political division in the nation, Gruters is trying to marshal support in the state Senate, where similar proposals have died in recent years.

Gruters said he intends to push the same language included in a similar House proposal he co-sponsored last year. His current bill (SB 168) is set for a hearing Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first of three committee stops.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who serves as the committee’s vice-chairman, said the chances of the proposal doing better this year are “obviously high,” considering Gruters’ prominent position as the head of the statewide GOP party.

“I think everybody understands that this is a campaign promise,” Rodriguez said in an interview. “They are trying to convince part of their base that they are tough against undocumented immigrants even though there is no such thing as a sanctuary city in Florida.”

While Gruters does not set the agenda for the Republican Party, his goal as party chairman is to win races in the future. With 2020 on the horizon, and President Donald Trump making immigration the cornerstone of his campaign, a hard-line immigration proposal passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature could provide a good selling point to voters.

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said he believes the “sanctuary city” ban should be vetted but added the proposal is not a personal priority of his.

Under the proposed bill, police would be required to honor all requests made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold undocumented immigrants, even though judges have repeatedly ruled such holds violate a person’s constitutional rights.

The bill would also allow the governor to remove an elected official from office if they cast a vote in favor of a “sanctuary city” policy.

DeSantis, a Republican who is close to Trump, has been clear that he does not want to allow “sanctuary cities” in the state. During his inauguration speech in January, he told Floridians the state would “stand for the rule of law.”

“We will stop incentivizing illegal immigration, which is unfair to our legal immigrants, promotes lawlessness and reduces wages for our blue collar workers,” DeSantis said.

Gruters, the head of the governor’s party, is trying to deliver on DeSantis’ pledge.

But it remains to be seen if the controversial bill will again be hard to swallow for some in the Florida Senate who either ideologically opposed the bill or were not in favor of sanctions. Gruters said it is his intention to keep the sanctions in the bill.

Galvano has encouraged Senate Judiciary Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, to work with Gruters to address concerns state senators have had in the past.

Last year, two Miami-Dade County Republicans, Sens. Anitere Flores and René García, voted against the proposal.

Due to term limits, García no longer serves in the Senate. But Flores is a member of the Senate Rules Committee, which could be the last Senate stop for the bill before a full floor vote.

–Ana Ceballos, News Service of Florida

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16 Responses for “State GOP Targets ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Even Though There Are None in Florida”

  1. Thomas says:

    Great news! Thank you Repubican leadership.

  2. Carol says:

    If you are here illegally, you have no Constitutional Rights. Sanctuary cities should be non-existent

  3. Michael Cocchiola says:

    This is more Republican insanity. If you’re going to push an issue, why not the expansion of the Medicaid program in Florida to cover 700,000 citizens – many of them women and children – who are uninsured. Why not sponsor criminal justice reform to reduce our prison population and give former felons a better chance to get jobs? Why are Republicans so destructive?

  4. thomas says:

    Thank you FL Republicans. You are nipping the problem in the bud.

  5. Edith_Campins says:

    Just another politician trying to get media coverage while wasting our tax dollars.

  6. Bill says:

    GOOD. Lets NOT start having ILLEGALS protected from their crimes by local governments.

  7. Stretchem says:

    “The bill would also allow the governor to remove an elected official from office if they cast a vote in favor of a “sanctuary city” policy.”

    Wow. So this is where we’re at now huh? This country is going to hell in a handbasket, driven primarily by a far right base that has gone completely off the rails. Ya know, this is how things went down in Germany 100 years ago. This isn’t conservatism, its flat out hatred and racism.

  8. gmath55 says:

    What has gone completely off the rails? Democrats – open borders, green new deal (this has got to be the dumbest idea I have ever heard.), abolish ICE, kill babies, illegal immigrants allowed, raise taxes, socialism, etc., etc. Democrats have no agenda and nothing for the American people. WOW Stetchem I guess you are ok with that. You are out of touch with the world!

  9. Stranger in a strange land says:

    Republicans are for “local Rule” unless it is something they disagree with.

  10. oldtimer says:

    So it’s hatred and racism to expect people to come here LEGALLY and respect our laws?

  11. Dave says:

    We need our sanctuary cities and Florida would be better of with a few itself!

  12. Sherry says:

    Take a look at the latest round of lies, from the racist leader, on the subject:

  13. Alphonse Abonte says:

    Look at the “sanctuary cities” and ask yourself, If Palm Coast was a sanctuary city would you live here? You are worried about crime now. Watch. It would get worse. All the people that want sanctuary cities, are living in a fantasy world with unicorns and rainbows. See the droves of people leaving these cities. Look at the politicians that support these cities. They also support open borders, free stuff for all, and my favorite, Green Idea! Ha! Boy, Democrats are sinking fast, hatred is their platform. Pointing fingers instead of solutions. They are part of the problem. Not the solution. Can you name one program the government has been successful at in the last 20 years?

  14. Richard says:

    Hoping that they make Flagler Beach a sanctuary city so I can go rob Fort Knox and then hang out in Flagler on the beach to avoid having to do jail time. HaHa

  15. gmath55 says:

    NEWS FLASH: Trump supporters DO NOT care that he lies. They care about the economy, jobs, salaries, taxes, and a better America. Furthermore they all lie Democrats and Republicans. Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, ect, ect, all lied. So, what was your point?

    Racist? Well, a little education goes a long way. LOOK! Barack Obama Is An Anti-White Racist And, what about Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring and the blackface? Is that not racist? You liberal snowflakes are hypocrites!

  16. Alphonse Abonte says:

    Good job! Keep them in California and maybe a few in New York. Watch them fall when they run them into the ground.

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