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Florida House Wants to Prohibit Immigrants’ “Sanctuary” Communities

| January 13, 2016

House targets sanctuary communities for illegal immigrants

They’ll be watching you. (Elvert Barnes)

Despite emotional pleas from immigrant advocates, state House members Wednesday moved forward with measures aimed at cracking down on cities and counties that provide “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants and increasing penalties for people who defy deportation orders.


The House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 9-4 to back a measure (HB 675) by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, that in part would define and prohibit sanctuary communities.

Later, the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee voted 8-3 to support a proposal (HB 9) by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, that would make it a felony for people who defy deportation orders.

Metz said his proposal isn’t intended to target any specific group but seeks to uphold immigration laws that the federal government is failing to carry out.

“This bill would basically say, as a matter of policy in the state of Florida, that we’re not going to tolerate state or local governmental agencies from refusing to cooperate with the enforcement of existing federal immigration law,” Metz said. “And just recognizing, in a footnote to that, the enforcement of existing federal immigration law is very limited under the current administration as it is right now, just targeting mainly those with criminal backgrounds or who are already subject to deportation orders.”

Among the numerous speakers opposed to both measures, Zoe Colon of the Hispanic Coalition in Orlando said the state should focus its energy instead on imploring the federal government to fix “our broken immigration system.”

“Anti-immigrant policies such as this one attack all brown and black families,” Colon said. “They separate families, they promote hate and racial profiling, and they attack a significant part of our workforce and economy.”

Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, called the measure “anti-immigrant rhetoric” stemming from the Republican presidential primary and said it is unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional.

Trujillo said governments can’t selectively enforce laws. “At what point do we say we’re not a country of laws?” he said.

A staff analysis of Trujillo’s bill noted that in 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of an Arizona law that created a misdemeanor for the willful failure to complete or carry alien registration documents.

“The court held that because of the existing comprehensive federal statutory framework related to alien registration, the federal government occupied the field of alien registration and explained that federal law makes a single sovereign responsible for maintaining a comprehensive and unified system to keep track of aliens within the nation’s borders,” the staff analysis concluded.

Under Metz’ proposal, government officials could face fines up to $5,000 a day for enacting policies or encouraging practices that could provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. The proposal would also allow people who have been victims of crimes in sanctuary communities to sue the local governments if the crimes were committed by undocumented immigrants.

The term “sanctuary cities” refers to local governments that in some way do not enforce federal immigration laws and are considered safe harbors for undocumented immigrants.

A staff analysis of the proposal said seven counties — Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade — have enacted policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration officials about detaining immigrants.

The anti-sanctuary measure was crafted in reaction to the fatal shooting in July of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported.

“That should never happen anywhere, and the intent of this bill is to make sure it never happens in the state of Florida,” Metz said.

But Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, said Metz’ measure will change the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities.

“People will be afraid to deal with the police. Crime victims, domestic-violence victims, human-trafficking victims, witnesses to a crime, even reporting a crime, will have a chilling effect based on this bill,” Stafford said. “What was once trust will become fear and anxiety.”

The Senate versions of the bills have yet to be scheduled for committee hearings.

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16 Responses for “Florida House Wants to Prohibit Immigrants’ “Sanctuary” Communities”

  1. Mark says:

    Good, go back where you came from and enter legally.

  2. r&r says:

    Great law. They might get the message not to come here. We can’t take care of our own let alone a bunch more illegals.

  3. tulip says:

    Sanctuary cities should be considered illegal. If they continue to operate in this manner, then all taxpayer and government funding and amenities should be withheld from the cities that don’t comply. Geesh, what the heck are we doing protecting illegals and criminals from the law? American citizens don’t even get that privilege.

  4. Bc says:

    It’s about time that we inforce the laws send them all back from were they came from and tell them to come here legally. the president we now have does not inforce the laws he was elected to inforce. Go Mr Trump. Build your wall keep the illegals out.

  5. Jim O says:

    Bravo.. Politicians actually doing what the people want….
    Enforce the laws on the books. Period…. No favoritism to any religion or origin.

  6. Rich Mikola says:

    As well they should!!!

  7. Algernon says:

    So far replies above have all been negative – showing little understanding or compassion of sanctuary cities. Maybe this article may shed some light on the situation:

    http://immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/debunking-myth-sanctuary-cities

    I’m not saying all are good, BUT, all aren’t bad either.

  8. Bc says:

    Algernon no not are all bad. But they are illegal look up the word illegal

  9. scoff the cuff says:

    “People(?) will be afraid to deal with the police.” What sad excuse.
    Punish for wrong-doing, please.

  10. Geezer says:

    To: Bc says:

    Pardon me, how does one “inforce” laws one is elected to “inforce?”
    Hey, aren’t you the one who spell-checks the tacky signs at Tea Party rallies?

    English lesson for today (from a Spanish speaker):
    Avoid using “illegal(s)” as a noun.
    Your attempts to dehumanize people only spotlight your gross ignorance.

    While Mr. Toupee builds your wall – remind your hero (laughter!) to simultaneously
    construct another wall traversing the Canadian border.

  11. Sherry says:

    And now for some actual facts. . . this from Rational Wiki:

    The myths

    Illegal immigrants do not pay taxes
    Immigrants pay property taxes either via home ownership or rental, as well as sales tax when purchasing goods in the U.S. Depending on their employers, the immigrants also pay federal, state, and local income taxes. Analysts told VICE News the population will contribute at least $12 billion to the federal government in 2015, and at least $10.6 billion to state and local governments via income and payroll taxes.[1] Undocumented workers pay their part despite the fact that they are explicitly banned from taxpayer-funded programs such as Social Security, Medicare, welfare, and food stamps. Undocumented immigrants contributed about $12 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund in 2010, according to the Social Security Administration.[2] Since illegal immigrants cannot legally be employed, they are often employed “off the books” in casual or seasonal work and are paid in cash, without taxes deducted and often below minimum wage. Employers often threaten to report immigrant workers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement if the worker complains about wages or working conditions.[3]
    Since illegal immigrants often have fake or stolen documents (especially Social Security numbers), they often cannot benefit from Social Security taxes withheld from wages. The amount in question is evidenced by the Social Security Administration’s “suspense file” (taxes that cannot be matched to workers’ names and Social Security numbers), which grew $20 billion between 1990 and 1998.

    ]Immigrants come here to get “welfare”
    Immigrants come to work and to reunite with family members.
    Immigrant labor-force participation is consistently higher than native-born, and immigrant workers make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force (12.4%) than they do the U.S. population (11.5%). Moreover, the ratio between immigrant use of public benefits and the amount of taxes they pay is consistently favorable to the U.S., unless the “study” was undertaken by an anti-immigrant group. One study estimates that immigrants earn nearly $240 billion a year. Studies find that immigrant tax payments total $20 to $85 billion more than the amount of government services they use.[6]
    Since the welfare reform of 1996, when limits were implemented cutting off benefits to two years consecutively or five years cumulatively, this is a bogus accusation.
    To immigrate into the US, you must have a sponsor (generally the family member, such as the spouse, bringing you into the country) who will testify, and provide proof, that he or she has enough money to support you, if you are unable to support yourself, or if you lose your job. This agreement means that until you naturalize as a U.S. citizen or have been a taxpayer for 10 years, your sponsor’s income will be taken into consideration in deciding whether you are poor enough to qualify for means-tested benefits, and that if you do take those benefits, the government can sue your sponsor to recover those costs. You can also sue your sponsor if they fail to support you at the poverty level.

    Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries
    In addition to the consumer spending of immigrant households, immigrants and their businesses contribute $162 billion in tax revenue to U.S. federal, state, and local governments. While it is true that immigrants remit billions of dollars a year to their home countries, this is one of the most targeted and effective forms of foreign direct investment[wp].[7]
    Also, if you are going to complain that immigrants send money back to their home countries, you have to also raise a stink that very often, the rich offshore their money in foreign banks.

    Immigrants take jobs and opportunity away from Americans
    The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early 1900s coincided with the lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for U.S. and foreign workers, and foreign-born students keep graduate programs in U.S. universities in demand.[8] In Silicon Valley by 2003, companies founded by Chinese and Indian immigrants generated more than $19.5 billion in sales and nearly 73,000 jobs.[9]
    Illegal immigrants, as well as legal immigrants with little job skills or language skills often take the work seen by most Americans as “beneath them.” Janitorial services, crop pickers and garbage collectors need workers, and they do not find them from high-school-educated, English-speaking citizens. As a demonstration of this fact, in Georgia, a 2011 crackdown on illegal immigrants caused many to be deported and more to flee the state. This caused a shortage of labor on the state’s farms, indicating that illegal immigrants in that state do not compete very much with Americans for jobs.

    Immigrants are a drain on the U.S. economy
    During the 1990s, half of all new workers were foreign-born, filling gaps left by native-born workers in both the high- and low-skill ends of the spectrum.
    Immigrants fill jobs in key sectors and create jobs by establishing their own businesses, with an estimated annual benefit of $10 billion to the U.S. economy. According to Alan Greenspan, 70% of immigrants arrive when they are of prime working age.
    Due to welfare reform, legal immigrants are severely restricted from accessing public benefits, and illegal immigrants are even further precluded from anything other than emergency services. Anti-immigrant groups skew these figures by including programs used by U.S. citizen children of immigrants in their definition of immigrant welfare use, among other tactics.

    Immigrants don’t want to learn English or become Americans
    Within ten years of arrival, more than 75% of immigrants speak English well; moreover, demand for English classes at the adult level far exceeds supply. Greater than 33% of immigrants are naturalized citizens; given increased immigration in the 1990s, this figure will rise as more legal permanent residents become eligible for naturalization in the coming years. The number of immigrants naturalizing spiked sharply after two events: enactment of immigration and welfare reform laws in 1996, and the terrorist attacks in 2001.

    Illegal immigrants cause crime
    Whilst a common cry of the anti immigration brigade – and the font of endless anecdotal “evidence” – the facts don’t support this. According to FBI statistics in Arizona in 2008, despite the increased presence of illegal immigrants, crime rates have actually dropped, while the population has increased.[17] Only 8% of the prison population are immigrants, which also includes legal immigrants as well.[18]
    Furthermore, El Paso, Tex., and San Diego, Calif., cities that border Mexico and have a significant population of undocumented immigrants, have the lowest crime rates in the U.S.

    The government is not enforcing existing immigration laws
    By September 2011, the number of removed illegal immigrants from the United States during the Obama administration exceeded the number of removals during the entire George W. Bush administration.[20]
    It would be difficult, if not impossible, for the government to round up and deport every illegal immigrant. The agency responsible for doing so, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has limited resources (finances, officers, jail spaces etc.) and must prioritize how they are spent (as well as figuring out how to spend resources on enforcing US Customs laws).[21] A migrant farm laborer’s family probably is not as high on ICE’s priority list for deportation as as a major drug trafficker might be. Furthermore, aliens involved in deportation proceedings are entitled to due process regardless of their status in the United States.

    Problems that arise when blanket deportation is attempted

    It’s fair to assume that industries that are largely dependent on the hard work of illegal immigrants would collapse, or at least suffer a major setback.
    Despite many of the jobs done by immigrants being low pay and long hours, they do require skill and training. Replacing e.g. a huge number of people plucking almonds or cutting asparagus on short notice is next to impossible. Say goodbye to your food, California.
    The cost of the program would be massive; law enforcement would need a huge amount of extra resources and manpower to put deportation into practice, and the courts (y’know, due process and all that) would also have a shortage of money and labor.
    Many children of immigrants are natural-born US citizens, via the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship clause. Hence, blanket deportation of illegal immigrants would involve expelling the parents of citizens, leaving millions with the choice of what amounts to exile (at least until they’re adults) or living as orphans. And it brings up another logistical nightmare as many deported parents may choose to leave their children behind for what seems like a brighter future, dumping a massive load onto an already overburdened foster care system.

  12. Bc says:

    Sherry well written I have a new out look on this problem we face here.

  13. Sherry says:

    Dear Bc. . . if you are sincere that I have helped you to move beyond the emotional, inaccurate rhetoric to a place of better understanding of our true immigration situation . . . then I am indeed blessed this day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  14. confidential says:

    You are totally correct Sherry!. Thank you for your zoom into reality!
    After all except our Native American Nations, we are all immigrants here.
    We have bigger fish to fry than rounding up hard working immigrants that have been here for decades to deport them, while all these years they were contributing to our economy!
    How did we manage to become such bigots? You all forget that one third of America was Mexico territory until 1848? We took their land and though in better hands now, they should be the first to be granted visas when they are denied to instead make room for political refugees from allover, with no background checks and all expenses paid by us all. Some of them turn around and massacre us now.

  15. Sherry says:

    Thanks to you also confidential says. . . you are absolutely Right On!

    I pray that our next election puts a reasonable, level headed person in the white house. These are very complex issues that need thoughtful analysis and study to not only “do the right thing” but to fully understand the repercussions of such decisions. Electing some hot head, “know it all” would be a huge, huge mistake for the future of our country!

  16. Sherry says:

    I should have said “state” houses and Congress as well!

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