FLORIDA — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced his support for Senate Bill 168 (SB 168). Standing beside the Hernando County Sheriff, the latest to enter into a basic ordering agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), DeSantis said his administration was looking into the possibility of launching a statewide partnership between Florida and ICE. Basic Ordering Agreements, one of a myriad of strategies to get around the constitutional protections against being held without charge, have a history of casting such a wide net that immigrants are targeted regardless of their status. Even US-born citizens have been targeted and held longer than is legal. Hernando County Sheriff Al Neinhuis himself admitted BOA’s are used to protect sheriff departments when US citizens are unlawfully detained. The We Are Florida coalition of immigration advocates, religious leaders and defenders of civil rights immediately spoke out against DeSantis for his proposals to dramatically increase mandated collaboration with ICE.
Thomas Kennedy, Political Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition offered the following statement:
“It’s shameful that the governor of the state of Florida seeks to further harass immigrant communities and erode public safety. Directing precious local resources away from law enforcement to further target Floridian families for deportation comes at an extremely high financial and moral cost. The insidious attacks against immigrants on the national level are being amplified by DeSantis’ push for anti-immigrant policies. It’s more important than ever for immigrants to feel like they can turn to their local elected officials and police force to protect them. Instead, immigrant communities are being threatened, profiled, harassed and detained in greater numbers. We should be working to build trust among our local law enforcement and our communities, not instilling fear.”
The ACLU of Florida offered the following statement:
“Today, Governor DeSantis announced that he intends to explore implementing a program like 287(g) for the entire state of Florida. 287(g) programs are a dangerous tool. These programs enable illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses, divert limited resources from traditional local law enforcement functions and distort immigration enforcement priorities. Counties should be pushing back on pressures to becoming part of a deportation force, not enabling it. Immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government not state and local personnel and law enforcement. We urge Florida lawmakers to protect immigrants from unlawful detention and reject passing bills that would violate Floridians’ rights.”
Karen Woodall, Executive Director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, offered the following statement:
“Local law enforcement officials should continue to make decisions about the level of their involvement with immigration based on what is in the best interest of their local community, not based on a political agenda out of Tallahassee that removes their local decision process.”
Maria Revelles, Deputy Director of Faith in Florida, offered the following statement:
“Faith in Florida stands in solidarity with our immigrant families and communities, as leaders of faith we are committed to the protection and security of immigrants. We believe that language like the one announced by Gov. DeSantis today only will put fear in immigrant families and communities. There are not sanctuary cities in Florida, but we believe in the principles of sanctuary to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Maria Bilbao, Florida Organizer with United We Dream, offered the following statement:
“Our Miramar community has seen first hand what having ICE in our backyards looks like: more immigrants behind bars, more women in shackles and more broken families. Senate Bill 168 and DeSantis’ proposal for more local ICE contracts would only worsen the current reality for millions of immigrants in our state. What we need from our state and local officials are solutions that ensure our immigrant community has the freedom to live without fear of deportation.”
SB 168 is Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda at its worst, eroding trust in law enforcement, costing taxpayers millions, and dehumanizing vulnerable immigrant communities. The Bill would circumvent the power and authority of local governments to protect the civil rights of its residents, and force local governments and officials to cooperate with federal immigration authority at a level that is not required by law and has been challenged several times in courts. We call on Senators from both political parties to reject these draconian bills, and we send a notice to all those who voted in favor that we are watching intently and will hold them accountable.