A Republican lawmaker’s effort to deport more undocumented immigrants detained by Florida law-enforcement agencies is quickly moving through the Senate. The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee on a party-line vote Tuesday approved the bill (SB 168) without being able to finish hearing testimony from members of the public, who for the most part came to protest the proposal.
Sen. Joe Gruters, who doubles as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, is sponsoring the bill with the help of Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge. Under the proposal, which is backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, both of them Republicans, the state would ban local governments from passing ordinances that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. That would include preventing local governments from not honoring administrative detainers by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Such detainers require holding undocumented immigrants for at least 48 hours past their sentences while awaiting federal authorities to pick up the immigrants for deportation. While the Senate proposal was watered down to include few sanctions on local governments, the bill says the attorney general would have the option to pursue civil actions against state or local governments that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration law.
A bill (HB 527) with tougher penalties has been filed in the Florida House, but the measure, sponsored by Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, and Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, has not been heard in committees. The House passed such a so-called sanctuary cities bill last year. The Senate version needs to clear the Rules Committee before it can go to the Senate floor.