The Florida Senate has passed a bill slated to ban so-called sanctuary city policies, and the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, is expected to sign it.
The new bill, dubbed SB 168, passed in a 22–18 vote on April 26, with only one Republican voting against the bill.
Republican Sen. Joe Gruters, who introduced the bill, said it re-establishes the “rule of law.” Sanctuary cities are locales that have enacted measures to prevent local officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
The bill requires state entities, local governmental entities, and law enforcement agencies to use their “best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.” It also prohibits restrictions from entities and agencies “on taking certain actions with respect to information regarding a person’s immigration status.”
Gruters, the state GOP chairman, said the bill only targets “the worst of the worst” and would only affect illegal immigrants who’ve been arrested and are the subject of a federal detainer.
Sen. Tom Lee, another Republican, said sanctuary city policies are a slap in the face for those who enter the United States legally.
“I think 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.
The bill’s passage in the Senate came days after the House passed its own version, dubbed HB 527, on April 24. Among the differences between the two chambers’ bills are penalties for violating the policy: The House includes fines for officials who adopt sanctuary policies, and the Senate doesn’t.
Local officials under the House version of the bill could be fined up to $5,000 a day for each day that passes with a sanctuary-city policy in place. It also adds a rule that elected officials who permit such policies may be suspended or removed from office.
Several differences need to be worked before the legislation can be sent to the desk of DeSantis, who has indicated support for a sanctuary policy ban. Republicans have rejected Democrats’ criticism that the bill is “anti-immigrant.”
“This bill is not about removing illegals from the state of Florida. This bill is about protecting the citizens in the state of Florida,” Republican Rep. Michael Caruso said about the House bill’s passage.
The House had tried to pass a similar ban the past four years but it died in the Senate, according to the Miami Herald. Gruters said that having the governor make sanctuary cities a major talking point has played a significant role in the bill’s success.
“That’s why this is moving forward,” Gruters said previously. “It has opened up some doors that weren’t previously available.”
President Donald Trump, a firm critic of sanctuary cities, said weeks ago that he’s considering a plan to transport aliens who are apprehended after illegally crossing the southwest border exclusively to sanctuary cities, saying it should make advocates of sanctuary zones “very happy.” Meanwhile, the administration is seeking to enforce existing immigration laws to the fullest extent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report