TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Senate Rules Committee today voted to pass Senate Bill 168, which would prohibit all state and local agencies from passing or enforcing ordinances that would protect Floridians from unlawful immigration detention, would repeal any existing sanctuary policies and would divert limited local resources to enforcing federal immigration law.
The passage of the bill comes only a week after a coalition of civil rights and immigrants’ rights organizations issued a statewide travel alert informing individuals traveling to or residing in Florida to anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights if SB 168 and HB 527 become Florida law. The alert was issued to caution both Florida travelers and residents, especially Black, brown & Latinx communities, of the increased likelihood of racial profiling, unjust detention, and possible deportation if these anti-immigrant bills pass.
SB 168 is the companion bill to House Bill 527, which has already passed through two committees, despite grave concerns held by advocates, such as the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and the ACLU of Florida, and numerous Florida business leaders.
Kara Gross, legislative director, ACLU of Florida, also responded to today’s vote, stating:
“The Constitution guarantees that every person should have due process and the right to equal treatment, regardless of their citizenship. These anti-immigrant bills undermine these rights for Floridians and will contribute to creating an environment of fear and harassment that are antithetical to American values.
“These bills would require Florida law enforcement officers to blindly carry out every detainer request they receive from ICE, despite there being no judicial determination of probable cause. Forcing Florida law enforcement to participate in ICE’s broken and unreliable detainer system will wrongfully disrupt the lives of Floridians all across the state. We already know from Miami-Dade County’s own records that ICE issued hundreds of detainer arrest requests for people listed as U.S. citizens over the last two years. In the past two years alone, there have been two lawsuits filed on behalf of U.S. citizens who were wrongfully held and racially profiled as undocumented immigrants in Florida.
“SB 168 and HB 527 threaten the civil rights of all Floridians and we will continue to urge our lawmakers to table these harmful initiatives.”