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January 8, 2018

Anti-immigrant bill would force local law enforcement agencies to enforce requests from federal immigration officials despite constitutional protections; House vote expected first week of session

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is calling on Florida state representatives to reject HB 9, which would require local and state entities, including law enforcement, colleges and universities, to divert resources to enforcing federal immigration law, without any requirement for federal reimbursement of costs, and expose Florida’s taxpayers to costly litigation for racial profiling and Fourth Amendment violations.

The bill provides that no state entity or employee may adopt or have any policy which limits or prevents compliance with an immigration detainer request, investigation of the inmate’s immigration status, or providing a federal immigration agency with an inmate’s release date.

Failure to fully comply with requests from federal immigration officials would result in severe state-imposed penalties, such as fines or loss of state grant funding for five years. This would force local jurisdictions to abide by requests not otherwise legally required of them, make way for racial profiling, and threaten Floridians’ right to due process. The Florida House has scheduled the bill for consideration during the first week of the 2018 legislative session, which starts tomorrow.

“HB 9 is an anti-immigrant bill that will undermine public safety in Florida,” said Kara Gross, legislative counsel for the ACLU of Florida. “It’s about turning all government employees in the state of Florida into unpaid agents of the federal immigration enforcement system, which diverts the resources needed to protect and serve our communities.”

“If HB 9 becomes law, Florida cities, counties, and law enforcement agencies will be damned if they do, damned if they don’t,” added Gross. “This bill would shortcut current federal requirements for immigration enforcement cooperation with localities and violate the civil rights and liberties of actual or perceived immigrants across the state of Florida.”

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