Florida Law Banning Sanctuary Cities Enters Into Full Force

October 2, 2019 Updated: October 2, 2019

A controversial Florida law banning sanctuary cities has taken full effect, though some provisions obliging local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities have been blocked.

The law, formally known as SB 168: Federal Immigration Enforcement but colloquially termed the sanctuary city ban, entered into full force on Tuesday, Oct. 1, even as some provisions of the legislation had already been in effect since July.

Ahead of the law’s entry into force, however, a judge blocked parts of the law requiring local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, according to the Miami Herald.

Miami U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom issued an order on Monday blocking provisions of SB 168 that would have required local police to cross state lines to help federal immigration authorities. However, Judge Bloom left in place a provision where the officers would have to detain illegal immigrants until the feds come to collect them. 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.”

The sanctuary city ban 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.

‘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.

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.”

Speaking to reporters on the day the law was signed, Sen. Tom Lee (R) called sanctuary city policies an insult for those who enter the United States legally.

“We’re a nation of laws, and I think allowing porous borders that have people coming over here in defiance to our laws is somewhat of an abomination to all the people who have come here legally,” Lee said, according to the Herald-Tribune.

‘Baffled’

Judge Bloom’s decision to block only certain parts of the law ahead of its entry into force 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.”

ICE Report on Dangers of Sanctuary City Policies

In July, 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.

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.

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.

Epoch Times reporter Bowen Xiao and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM
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