Florida lawmakers are looking into legislation that would ban so-called sanctuary cities in the state as several bills make their way through the state legislature.
With renewed attention on this issue following President Trump’s apparent confirmation of reports that he’s “giving strong considerations to placing illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities only,” lawmakers in the Sunshine State are looking for ways to prevent localities from becoming safe-zones for illegal immigrants.
Republican Florida State Representative Cord Byrd, who spoke to “Fox & Friends” host Pete Hegseth on Saturday, is proposing one bill that would aid in the enforcement of federal immigration law by allowing local law enforcement officers to coordinate with federal agencies, alerting federal immigration authorities when they have arrested an illegal immigrant for a crime committed in Florida.
Hegseth noted statistics indicating that, with 775,000 illegal immigrants in the state, Florida has the third-highest rates in the country.
Florida is a gateway to Central and South America,” Byrd said, explaining that some immigrants come to the state for work and some overstay their visas but that Florida is home to both legal and illegal immigrants.
“we want to make sure that those that are here are following the rule of law,” he added.
Hegseth asked the Republican lawmaker representing District 11 why it seems “we oftentimes value illegals over U.S. citizens.”
“That’s what’s baffling,” Byrd responded, adding “frankly this law should be unnecessary.”
“You would think that those who raise their right hand and take an oath to the Constitution, whether they’re an elected official or a law enforcement officer would follow the law,” he argued.
Several bills are in motion in the state which, in November, elected Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace outgoing GOP incumbent Rick Scott, who went on to win the Senate seat after a controversial election. DeSantis has been pressing to get tougher illegal immigration. A sanctuary city ban passed the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee and is set to be voted on by both chambers before May 3.
“This problem that we have right now, is a problem that has been festering in the United States because it has not been solved by the federal government for the past 40 years,” Florida Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia said earlier this month, according to Fox News. “Quite frankly, you know since the last mass amnesty, if you will, in 1986 under Ronald Reagan, we were always promised that we would have some sort of… legal immigration reform and it never came.”
Passing the bills would add Florida to the growing list of states, such as Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi and Texas, which enacted similar laws requiring law enforcement to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Anyone who says that there is a sanctuary city in the state of Florida, especially if they’re a policymaker, that would be very concerning to me because it simply does not exist,” Melissa Taveras, spokesperson for the Florida Immigrant Coalition countered.
But GOP lawmakers disagree, pointing to cities like Orlando and West Palm Beach as “pseudo-sanctuary” cities.
“There are still people here in the state of Florida, police chiefs that are just refusing to contact ICE, refusing to detain somebody that they know is here illegally. So while the actual county municipality doesn’t have an actual adopted policy, they still have people in power within their sheriff’s department or police department that refuse to do it anyway,” Ingoglia said.
ACLU leaders criticized so-called “sanctuary cities” legislation as an infringement of civil rights, according to Florida Politics. State Sen. Joe Gruters, who sponsored legislation that requires ICE records to be checked by jails and individuals to be held in custody for two days if detainer orders exist, slammed the ACLU in a tweet.
— Joe Gruters (@JoeGruters) April 9, 2019
“Florida will pass SB#168 and we will follow the rule of law. This is race baiting and it is pushing a false narrative on reality,” he said.