Amid a national debate about immigration reform, the Republican-dominated Florida House is poised to approve a measure banning so-called “sanctuary cities” despite the objections of Democrats, immigrant advocates and civil-rights groups.
The House debated the controversial policy for hours Thursday — day three of the 2018 legislative session, an indication of its importance to Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who is mulling a run for governor.
The proposal mirrors a measure passed by the House last year, though it has been branded by critics this time around as an election-year political ploy by GOP House leaders, including Corcoran.
“This bill is not just cruel. It’s absurd,” Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who is a lawyer, said before the House took up the proposal during Thursday’s floor session.
The measure (HB 9), which likely will pass the House on Friday, would require local governments and universities to comply with federal immigration laws and would impose stiff penalties on those that declare themselves sanctuaries from immigration enforcement.
Under the measure — dubbed the “Rule of Law Adherence Act” — state or local governmental entities or law enforcement agencies would be fined up to $5,000 for each day they are deemed to be out of compliance. The bill would require complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention requests and repealing current sanctuary policies.
State Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, began crafting the anti-sanctuary measure in 2015 in reaction to the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported. A jury last month found Jose Ines Garcia Zanate not guilty of second-degree murder charges in Steinle’s death.
“How did we get to a point in the country where we have over 11 million foreign citizens in our country without any screening, without any permissive authorization to come here? What does that do to the rule of law?” Metz said before Thursday’s afternoon floor session.
The House took up the issue a day after federal immigration officials raided 7-Eleven convenience stores in 17 states, including Florida, resulting in 21 arrests. The debate occurred on the same day President Donald Trump sparked outrage after reportedly questioning why the U.S. should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” such as Haiti and African countries.
Metz, a lawyer, conceded that the state would likely be sued if the anti-sanctuary proposal were enacted. Several cities sued the state of Texas over a similar law last year.
A federal judge found that portions of the Texas law echoed in Metz’s plan — including banning cities from refusing to assist federal immigration officers, prohibiting municipalities from adopting policies that limit the enforcement of immigration laws and requiring law-enforcement agencies to comply with detainer requests — were unconstitutional. A federal appeals court in New Orleans is considering the case.
“Do I believe that we could be sued? It’s probably likely that we would be, because in every other instance … advocates for open borders find a way to bring a lawsuit,” Metz said. “So I wouldn’t expect it to be any different in Florida but I wouldn’t let that chill my legislative zeal for the rule of law.”
Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Lantana, said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids — which he pointed out did not include Walgreens or Wal-Mart — highlight concerns that the proposal could prompt local law-enforcement officials to target blacks and Hispanics.
“Can you agree that your bill has the potential of creating a major racial profiling issue here in our state?” Jacquet asked.
“No,” Metz responded.
But Jacquet said the bill would give law-enforcement officers “authority to choose where to raid, and when to raid.”
Metz disputed that, saying his bill “doesn’t authorize or permit any raids by law-enforcement officials solely for immigration” enforcement.
He also rejected concerns that the anti-sanctuary measure would prompt local officials to launch dragnets in search of undocumented immigrants, whom Metz repeatedly referred to as “illegal aliens” or “illegals,” terms the immigrant community considers offensive.
The proposal does not require state or local law-enforcement officials “to go out and hunt for illegal aliens in Florida,” Metz said.
It’s unclear how many Florida cities, counties or municipalities could be affected by the proposal, and it’s also uncertain whether the measure has a shot in the Senate, which ignored the plan the past two years.
Senate President Joe Negron said Thursday evening he expects a companion bill (SB 308) to receive at least one vetting by a committee.
“Every official should cooperate with all of law enforcement to make sure that our laws are being uniformly enforced,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.
But Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said the measure is “not anything that I’ve spent any time and any discussion on.”
“It’s not something that’s been put on my radar screen yet,” Simpson said.
Immigrant advocates, a handful of Democratic lawmakers and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for governor, decried the proposal during a press conference outside the House chamber Thursday morning.
“Undocumented immigrants are just as American as the rest of us. They just don’t have the paperwork. This bill creates two criminal justice systems, one for undocumented immigrants and one for everyone else,” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said during the media event, attended by dozens of Hispanic men, women and children.
Julio Calderon, campaign manager of the Florida Immigrant Coalition “We are Florida” campaign and the organizer of Thursday’s event, said the proposal is a reflection of “anti-immigrant rhetoric” that blossomed leading up to and following Trump’s election in 2016.
“They just keep repeating it. They think that it works. It does not work. It has not passed for a reason. We’ve been here in the past, for the last seven consecutive years. We will keep coming out. It will be challenged if it passes,” Calderon said. “We’re letting them know that we will be here as long as the end of the legislative session to make sure that our communities do not get criminalized.”
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
Disgusting act and I am so ashamed of my state for this, this is not what represents Floridians, get with the program Florida officials Sanctuary cities are what is needed and especially in Florida, Keep big government out of our buisness
For anyone who opposes this bill, I suggest that you move to San Francisco where you are revered for your stupidity but more importantly, your support, for all of the illegal immigrants who shoot and kill innocent people such as the one that killed Kate Steinle, Jose Ines Garcia Zanate.
There more homegrown white killer terrorist in our country than any illegals killing us. The one example picked from San Francisco has just been magnified for political reasons.
What an ignorant legislation!
If you like to stay in AMERICA do it legal
If you don’t like our laws go back where you come from
Tired of taxpayers supporting you
And take a stupid bunch of democrats with you
Linda Johnsen says
Sanctuary… A place of refuge and or safety. A shelter, asylum, immunity,… A refuge, haven, harbor,. A place to go in times of trouble. I DO NOT mean trouble in a possible perceived way. I am sickened at these corrupt , rich, troubled “people” trying to break everyone down. Anyone at anytime might need Sanctuary from a perceived threat and the threat is not anyone but these crazy politicians. I’m as white as cream, but know this will not pertain to me and that is crap…..Not saying I need sanctuary, but this is beyond racist, it is morbid.
There are plenty of citizens who are related to or can relate to these illegal immigrants trying to get ahead. They will be at the polls. Go ahead and pass it, you will get voted out.
enter the country legally…no problem
Not sure why any of you are against the “rule of law”. There is a legal way to enter this country and become a citizen.
And call themselves good Christians. Yup.
@Follow the money – and trump’s slime trail
Russians Flock to Trump Properties to Give Birth to U.S. Citizens
While the president rails against children of undocumented immigrants, wealthy Russians rent his condos—at huge costs—so they can have American kids.
“Anatoliy Kuzmin held out his daughter’s blue U.S. passport over a red Russian one and snapped a photo from a Florida beach.
“Woohoo! Got dual citizenship for my daughter!” he wrote on Instagram.
American citizenship for the newborn girl was the goal of Kuzmin and his Instagram-celebrity wife, who sought the help of birth-tourism services in Florida for the arrival of their first child. They are among the estimated hundreds of Russian parents who flock to the U.S. annually for warm weather, excellent medical care, and, more importantly, birthright American citizenship.
And many, like Kuzmin and his wife, stay at President Donald Trump’s properties in Florida…”
Sanctuary cities where undocumented people can go, kill people, rob, and do all kinds of bad things, while the law looks the other way. Even a sanctuary city jury acquitted the guy that killed the Steinle woman. They also get welfare, free schooling, medical care, etc. And us the taxpayers pay money to these cities and states.
Why are these people favored so much? Gee, I’m surprised that some group or organization hasn’t started protesting that U.S. citizens who commit crimes don’t have sanctuary cities to go to and get away with everything and the people think that’s okay as well. You can guarantee that if an American goes to a foreign country and commits crimes, more than likely that person will be in jail forever, or even worse killed or tortured. In this country, we give the immigrants safe haven????
Decades ago, many people immigrated to America to have a better life. They worked hard, had families, a lot of them became citizens and well educated. I admire those people. I also think that the “dreamer” children should be allowed to stay here. They got here by default. However, today we have women coming here deliberately to give birth and have an American child, which opens up “chain immigration”, druggies coming here to sell and distribute drugs, and many are criminals that want to escape their country. These are the people we need to keep out, not the decent ones, but very little has been done over the years to slow down illegal immigration or get rid of the undesirable ones.
Any politician who supports sanctuary cities will never get my vote or respect. I worry very much what this country is turning into and how warped some of our thinking has become over the years.
Stranger in a strange land says
So, “Our” republican legislators whose partie’s principal philosophy is states rights and local control want to mandate local enforcement of federal laws. Oh, that’s right it’s opposites time. Republicans who were so opposed to deficits during the last administration voted in favor of the biggest deficit-ballooning tax bill that will burden future generations with a Greek-like debt crisis. The same republicans who used to call themselves “The Moral Majority” vote for and support a President with too many morality issues to list. Will our legislators vote to enforce future federal rules regarding education so our kids will be deprived of scientifically proven information?
So, for you republicans out there, what exactly are Republican principles today? Please tell me.
Chris A Pickett says
It’s simple, if you are NOT a US citizen or LEGAL immigrant, it is against both federal AND state LAWS to be here, just like EVERY other country in the world. If you are NOT a US citizen, you CANNOT legally be a state citizen, it is simple as that.
San Francisco aquitted the immigrant the ACCIDENTALLY shot that young lady, so please dont spin things like he was a murderer.
Wishful thinking says
It makes me sick to know how many people think that the law of our country can be disregarded at will.
My husband and I went through the legal process without complaining for his residency and then his citizenship. He crossed every ‘T’ and dotted every ‘I’ and crossed every ‘T’.
What a,third world mess we are becoming. Makes me sick
Traveling Rep says
Dave, he is/was a MURDERER and an ILLEGAL ALIEN, the end!
This quote: ““This bill is not just cruel. It’s absurd,” Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat”
Is exactly the problem with lefty politicians, and liberals in general, these days. Who in their right friggin mind would possibly think it is okay for illegal alien sponges to come here and suck at the taxpayer teet, work under the table, send nearly all their earnings back home to their SH country instead of making any minimal contribution to the economy that feeds them? And those are the good illegal aliens…
I am 100% in favor of LEGAL IMMIGRATION, and welcome with open arms, employment, housing, whatever I can do to help.
Why can’t these so called “immigrant advocates” come to realize the difference between the two? Why can’t they respect the laws? If they are okay with these laws being broken, are they okay with people committing other crimes without repercussion?
NO, Traveling Rep. . . NOT “the end”. . . just who are you to be judge and jury? What, simply because you can hid behind a pseudo handle and ” bully” type in all caps?
Do you not understand that the forensic evidence proved that the bullet ricocheted off the ground before striking the victim? No doubt Garcia is a petty criminal and undesirable as a prospective US citizen, but it was not proven that he intentionally “murdered” anyone.
You obviously are filled with tremendous fear and hate, I pity you.
I don’t understand the debate on sanctuary cities. If you don’t like a law, get it changed. No one has the right of selective enforcement.
@Bill. . . “we” are a country of immigrants. Every single person residing here, unless they are full blooded native American IS an immigrant or descended from immigrants. Those whose ancestors came through Ellis island or before were essentially NOT vetted. . . many had NO identification or papers of any kind. Those who wrote our constitution were unvetted immigrants.
Immigration was not such a controversial issue in the past because those immigrants were mostly “white” skinned. . . except, of course, for the slaves, which is another issue, completely.
The issue of “legal” immigration is complex. Millions of “non-white” laborers have been illegally BROUGHT to the USA to perform tasks at a much lower cost than the minimum wage required for legal citizens. That economic structure brought we citizens beneficial goods and services at amazingly cheap prices. The new replacement for slavery. . . indentured servitude.
However, now that those “laborers” and their descendants desire some kind of legal status although they are not “white skinned”, prejudice rears it’s ugly head. The wealthy in our country desire an “underclass” labor force, they can pay under the table at pennies on the dollar, but they do NOT want those “non-white” laborers to be treated “equally”, as our laws technically require.
So. . . our morally bankrupt politicians cannot find a way to maintain an “underclass” of “cheap labor”, while keeping the majority of our “legal citizens” lily white.
Getting the law changed, as you say, is almost impossible. If and when our prejudice leaders are ever successful in their determination to rid the US of that cheap labor force, the price of everything will increase dramatically. Be very careful what you ask for. . . the new roof you’ll need after the next hurricane will likely coat you 30-40% more very soon!
Traveling Rep your hateful and racist words seal your fate on this issue and render you statement void, choise your words more careful in the future if you intend on trying to make a point
@tulip. . . please read the post I addressed to Bill. Do try and remove the fear and hate from your heart. Life is much too short to carry such poison around.
You people are crazy says
Sherry….did he pull the trigger?
He may not be a murderer but he killed someone and skated…
Sherry! We are only a country of immigrants because your people fled your country . This is the same thing that happened to us when your people arrived. Illegal immigrants lower the quality of life here and put our money into other countries economy’s. Hundreds of millions of dollars are funneled out of the US each year. Hope the government stops all tax dollars to citizens of any sanctuary city then we will see how you feel when they leach of of smaller pots.
Traveling Rep says
I don’t know what you read Dave, but I made not mention of race whatsoever in my statement. It appears that you are assuming I was discussing Latinos?
Dave, let me bring you up to speed fella: My wife, the love of my life and the mother of my children IS a Latina from Central America. Together we worked diligently to bring her into the US through the legal immigration process – without costing our fellow Americans one penny. Yo puedo hablar Espanol tambien, porque mi esposa no habla ingles con fluidez.
If this is your definition of racism, you probably need a frontal lobotomy.
You should choose your words more carefully in the future.