Florida sets an important precedent

As reported in the Miami Herald News, on Friday, 14 June 2019, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the Federal Immigration Enforcement Bill, S.B. 168, keeping a promise he had made during his campaign for governor.

Here is a summary of the bill's provisions shown on the Florida Senate website:

  • Prohibits a state entity, local governmental entity, or law enforcement agency from having a sanctuary policy, which is a law, policy, practice, procedure, or custom that restricts a law enforcement agency's ability to communicate or exchange information with a federal immigration agency on immigration enforcement matters or from complying with immigration detainers.
  • Provides procedures for a court to follow to reduce a defendant's sentence by up to 12 days and thereby permit a law enforcement agency to transfer the defendant to a federal facility and complete the remaining 12 days of the sentence.
  • Requires a law enforcement agency that has custody of someone who is subject to an immigration detainer to notify the judge of the detainer, record in the person's file the existence of the detainer, and comply with the detainer.
  • Requires a county correctional facility to enter into an agreement with a federal immigration agency for the payment of costs associated with housing and detaining defendants.
  • Provides that the Governor, in an exercise of his or her constitutional duties, may initiate judicial proceedings against any executive or administrative state, county, or municipal officer to enforce compliance with duties under the act or restrain unauthorized actions contrary to the act.
  • Permits the Attorney General to institute an action for a violation of this law or to prevent a violation of the law.
  • Requires any sanctuary policies currently in effect be repealed within 90 days after the effective date of the act.

Governor DeSantis minced no words in characterizing the serious problem S.B. 168 is intended to address:

Sanctuary cities basically create law-free zones where people can come to our state illegally and our country illegally, commit criminal offenses and then just walk right out the door and continue to do it. In Florida, that will not happen.

Pinellas County sheriff Bob Gualtieri, a strong supporter of the bill, added:

[The bill] doesn't change anything because we've been doing that for years. This is not dealing with what cops deal with on the street. This has nothing to do with turning people over [to ICE].  It only has to do with criminals that are in jail who ICE has a warrant to further arrest. It's us serving that warrant for the arrest.

The law takes effect July 1, 2019 and may well serve as a blueprint other states can follow.

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