The Latest Florida Immigration Proposal
While the federal government has the legal authority to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, some legislators in Florida are attempting to seize more control over enforcement through proposed legislation that would crack down on “sanctuary cities” in the state. An earlier sanctuary cities law that was passed in Florida in 2019 was found to be unconstitutional by a federal district court judge. However, the state is appealing the decision, and two Republican state legislators have now filed a Florida immigration proposal that would expand the earlier law.
Republican Immigration Proposal
Representatives Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and John Snyder, R-Stuart, filed SB 1808 and HB 1355 in the Florida Senate and House on Jan. 7, 2022. These identical bills were filed after Gov. Ron Desantis announced a similar proposal during a news conference in Jacksonville in December. The proposed bill would increase the state’s immigration enforcement while cracking down on sanctuary cities.
Under the proposal, the 2019 sanctuary cities law would be expanded. Transportation companies that transport undocumented immigrants into Florida would potentially lose state contracts. The bill would ban local and state governments with contracting with companies that provide any services to facilitate the transportation of undocumented immigrants into Florida with the knowledge that they are unlawfully present in the U.S.
During the press conference Gov. Desantis held on Dec. 10, he said that state and local governments should not be contracting with companies that facilitate bringing undocumented immigrants into Florida. Both Desantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody have spent months criticizing the Biden Administration’s border policies along the Southern Border, despite the fact that Florida does not share a border with Mexico. The bills were filed just prior to the annual start of the legislative session and promise to result in significant debate.
Under the proposal, counties would be forced to enter into agreements with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to allow local law enforcement officers to work with federal ICE agents to enforce the U.S. immigration laws. ICE currently has agreements with 48 counties in Florida in place for the counties to provide local law enforcement assistance with federal immigration enforcement. The bill would also ban local governments from preventing the sharing of immigration status information with the state of people in custody and force them to participate in the program with ICE.
What Might Happen With This Proposal
In the past, immigration proposals have led to intense legislative debates and court battles. If this bill is passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Desantis, it will likely be challenged in court. After the 2019 sanctuary cities law was passed, challenges were filed against it. The original law was meant to make local law enforcement agencies comply with immigration detainers and report information about the immigration status of undocumented immigrants in their custody to federal immigration authorities.
In Sept. 2021, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom found that two portions of the 2019 law violated immigrants’ rights to due process under the U.S. Constitution. The judge said that a narrative about immigrant threats led to the passage of the earlier bill and that it had a disparate and discriminatory impact on members of ethnic and racial minorities. She also found that the discriminatory impact of the earlier law was foreseeable and known by the legislature at the time that it passed the law.
Like the old law, this proposal will likely be challenged in federal court if it is passed and enacted. Since Republicans control the majority of seats in both legislative chambers, it is likely that this bill will be passed during this legislative session and will be subsequently challenged. The immigration proposal comes as Gov. Desantis, Attorney General Moody, and numerous lawmakers campaign for re-election and is likely politically motivated. Democrats in the state also point to the fact that Gov. Desantis is likely to run in 2024 for president as a reason for the proposal.
Get Help From an Experienced Miami Immigration Lawyer
Immigration enforcement remains in flux across the country. If this law is passed in Florida and upheld by the courts, many undocumented immigrants in Florida could be detained and potentially deported. The experienced team at Pozo Goldstein includes two former immigration prosecutors and a former judge. We are prepared to assess your case and help you explore your legal options. For help with immigration services, call us today at (305) 856-0400.