Florida Judge Rules Police Must Comply With ICE on Detainers But Not Assist Across State Lines

October 1, 2019 Updated: October 1, 2019

A federal judge has blocked part of a Florida law that required local police to cross state lines to help federal immigration authorities, but left in place a provision where the officers would have to detain illegal immigrants until the feds come to collect them.

Miami U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom issued the order on Monday, Sept. 30, according to the Miami Herald. She wrote in the order that the law “leaves numerous cooperative avenues open for law enforcement officers to participate in the immigration efforts of federal officers.”

Judge Bloom’s decision pertains to the law known as SB 168: Federal Immigration Enforcement, broadly reported as a sanctuary city ban.

Following the judge’s decision, the law that enters into force on Oct. 1 stipulates that Florida police officers must cooperate with federal agencies and hold detainees in jail for an extra two days until U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) picks up the suspects and takes them to a federal detention center.

Suspected illegal aliens who have posted bond or have fully served their local sentence would also be subject to the additional 48-hour detention.


The decision was criticized by South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a plaintiff in legal proceedings that sought an injunction over what the City of South Miami and immigrant advocacy groups called an unconstitutional immigration law.

“I’m a little baffled by it. … It’s ridiculous,” Stoddard said, according to the Herald. “It’s putting immigration enforcement above public safety.”

In June, Stoddard and the groups filed the case against Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, after the signing of the federal immigration enforcement bill. An argument was that forcing local law enforcement to engage in federal immigration actions would divert municipal policing resources and discourage reporting of crime in immigrant communities.

“This means if ICE tells you to drop everything, patrol, protection of schools, criminal investigations, you have to go play cowboys and Indians with ICE,” Stoddard said following Judge Bloom’s order, according to the Herald. “Local law enforcement is secondary to immigration enforcement.”

‘Great Strides in Protecting the Public’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, led efforts to get SB 168 passed. The bill passed the House in a 69-47 vote on April 24, and the Senate in a 22-18 vote on April 26.

“Earlier this year, I made a promise that we would ban sanctuary cities in Florida and today we are delivering on that promise,” said Gov. DeSantis. “I am proud to sign the bill presented to me by the Florida Legislature to uphold the rule of law and ensure that no city or county jurisdiction can get in the way of Florida’s cooperation with our federal partners to enforce immigration law.”

The law contains enforcement provisions that allow elected officials to be removed from office if they refuse to comply.

Epoch Times Photo
Governor Ron DeSantis signs SB 168: Federal Immigration Enforcement, on June 14, 2019. (Governor’s Office)

“This is about public safety, not about politics,” DeSantis said. “We must do everything within our power, and use all the tools available to us, to ensure that our communities are safe.”

According to the statement, DeSantis said the law “makes great strides in protecting the public from illegal aliens who unlawfully reside in our state by prohibiting state and local entities from having policies in place which prohibit or impede law enforcement from cooperating with a federal immigration agency.”

ICE Report on Dangers of Sanctuary City Policies

Earlier, ICE released its first “Declined Detainer” report, highlighting the dangers posed when sanctuary cities block efforts by federal immigration authorities to remove an illegal immigrant from the country.

The July 14 report, set to be released quarterly and mandated by President Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order on “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” illustrates incidents that occurred during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018.

The report highlights numerous cases in which law enforcement agencies failed to honor ICE detainers after arresting illegal immigrants, who then, after being released, later committed new crimes. Arrests of illegal immigrants included cases of drug possession, murder, burglary, and rape.

Epoch Times Photo
Refugio City Police Officer Tammy Gregory arrests an alleged illegal immigrant Jose Carrasco Leon in Refugio County, Texas, on Nov. 10, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

“Every day, ICE places detainers on individuals who the agency has probable cause to believe are aliens who are removable from the United States and are currently in federal, state, and local law enforcement agency custody,” the report says.

ICE said they place detainers on certain individuals they believe are “removable aliens in federal, state, and local law enforcement agency custody.”

Cooperation between ICE and law enforcement agencies are “critical to the effort to identify and arrest removable aliens and defend the nation’s security,” the report states.

Trump on Sanctuary Cities

President Donald Trump has been an outspoken critic of sanctuary cities. He has said that he was considering a plan to transport illegal immigrants who are apprehended after illegally crossing the southwest border exclusively to sanctuary cities.

Trump walks out of the Oval Office
President Donald Trump walks out of the Oval Office to speak with reporters at the White House on June 11, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy—so this should make them very happy!”

Eight states and hundreds of cities across the United States are recognized as sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.

The Trump administration proposed a new rule in April that would prevent illegal immigrants from being granted public housing financial assistance, and ensure that U.S. citizens are first in line to review housing subsidies.

Bowen Xiao and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM