This Week's Poll


Bill to ban sanctuary cities passes Florida Senate and House –Headed to Governor's desk

Staff Reports

The bill passed the state Senate 22-18 and on May 2, 2019, the state House 68-45. SB 168 is now headed to Governor Ron DeSantis and is expected to sign it into law.

According to a summary, SB 168 creates a new chapter of Florida Statutes entitled “Federal Immigration Enforcement.” The bill seeks to ensure that state and local entities and law enforcement agencies cooperate with federal government officials to enforce, and not obstruct, immigration laws. In its most general and broad terms, the bill prohibits sanctuary jurisdictions and requires state and local entities to comply with federal immigration detainers when they are supported by proper documentation.

In more specific terms, the bill:

-Prohibits a state entity, law enforcement agency, or local governmental entity, from having a sanctuary policy.

-Requires a covered government body to use its best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.

- Prohibits a state entity, local governmental entity, or law enforcement agency from restricting a law enforcement agency’s ability to communicate or exchange information with a federal immigration agency on immigration enforcement matters.

- Provides procedures for a court to follow to reduce a defendant’s sentence and thereby permit law enforcement agencies to transfer the defendant to a federal facility.

- 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.

- 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- Requires any sanctuary policies currently in effect be repealed within 90 days after the effective date of the act.
The fiscal impact to state and local governments is indeterminate.

House Summary of amendments:

House Amendment 1 is nearly identical to HB 527 as it was passed by the House.

The amendment enlarges the scope of the underlying Senate Bill.The amendment differs from SB 168 as passed by the Senate in that it prohibits any state or local governmental entity or law enforcement agency from having a sanctuary policy.

The Senate bill only required law enforcement agencies to cooperate with a federal immigration agency and prohibited state and local governmental entities from restricting a law enforcement agency’s cooperation with a federal immigration agency.

The House amendment also contains mechanisms to enforce the ban on sanctuary policies that were not contained in the Senate bill. The Senate bill allows the Governor or Attorney General to pursue declaratory or injunctive relief.

The House amendment allows for enforcement of the ban on sanctuary policies by the Governor and the Attorney General. But the amendment provides that state attorneys are primarily responsible for investigating complaints and enforcing the bill.

The amendment further requires courts to order entities or agencies found to have had a sanctuary policy in effect to pay fines of $1,000 to $5,000 per day that the policy was in effect. Court orders based on a finding of the existence of a sanctuary policy must also identify sanctuary policymakers responsible for the policy.

Those identified as sanctuary policymakers are subject to further actions by the Governor which include suspension or removal from office as authorized by state law and the State Constitution.

Public funds may not be used to defend or reimburse a sanctuary policymaker who knowingly and willfully violates the bill.Under the House amendment, a civil cause of action is authorized against a state or local governmental entity or law enforcement agency for a personal injury or wrongful death that is the result of the entity’s sanctuary policy.

Finally, under the amendment, a state or local governmental entity or law enforcement agency is ineligible to receive funding from certain non-federal grant programs administered by state agencies for 5 years after having been found to have a sanctuary policy.

If signed by the Governor, the bill would take effect July 1, 2019, except that the section establishing penalties would take effect October 1, 2019.