Controversial “sanctuary cities” bill postponed, spelling trouble ahead

Although a favorite of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, bill sponsor Sen. Aaron Bean said it would have been voted down 6 to 4 today.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran SCOTT KEELER | Times
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran SCOTT KEELER | Times
Published Jan. 30, 2018

A controversial bill aimed at eliminating "sanctuary cities" was postponed today, after the bill's sponsor said he didn't have the votes for it to pass its first Senate committee.

Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said that two of his Republican colleagues, Miami senators Anitere Flores and Rene Garcia, would have voted against it, producing a 6-to-4 vote against the bill. Postponing a vote means the bill is technically still alive.

"We would have lost today, but we're still hopeful," Bean said. "I've got some selling to do."

More than a hundred opponents packed a Senate hearing room to testify against the bill, and some supporters booed in opposition when Bean postponed the vote.

The bill is a favorite of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, a likely candidate for governor who released a fiery ad this week attacking "sanctuary" cities. The House passed the bill in the first week of this year's session.

But it was always considered a long shot in the Senate, which didn't even vote on the bill when it came up the last two years.

The bill would require police to honor all requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold undocumented immigrants, even though judges have repeatedly ruled such holds unconstitutional.

And it would prevent any elected official from casting a vote in favor of a "sanctuary" policy — essentially, anything that impedes immigration agents from doing their jobs. Doing so would subject them to fines and possible removal from office.

Corcoran's explosive ad this week depicted a young red-haired woman being gunned down by "an illegal immigrant," an apparent reference to the 2015 death of Kate Steinle, who was shot in the back and killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco.

"Incredibly, some Tallahassee politicians want to make Florida a sanctuary state," he said in the ad.

Corcoran has said Florida has two "sanctuary cities:" St. Petersburg and Tallahassee, but both Democratic mayors of those cities dispute the claim.