The bills — SB 168 in the Senate and HB 527 in the House — would require state and local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by turning over undocumented immigrants to the federal government. Though Florida does not currently have any self-described “sanctuary cities,” the bills would punish local police departments that don’t comply.
“If Florida State Bill 168 and House Bill 527 pass, it would undermine local governments’ ability to protect the civil rights of their residents by forcing local officials to cooperate with ICE,” the ACLU said in a statement. “It would also put immigrants at risk of violence, potentially forcing victims and witnesses to stay silent for fear of deportation.”
The ACLU warns that people who travel to Florida, including U.S. citizens, could experience racial profiling, unjust detention, and deportation. The organization describes Miami International Airport and PortMiami as high risk areas for undocumented immigrants.
Opponents of the bills, including Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina, say they will make victims of crimes less likely to report to authorities for fear that they will be turned over to ICE, and expedite deportation of immigrants who haven’t been convicted of serious crimes.
“The truth is I’d prefer not to have this job if I have to ask fellow officers to go check where someone came from before helping them,” he told Spanish-language radio station Actualidad Radio 1040 AM in March.
Proponents, including Neptune Beach Representative Cord Byrd, a Republican, say the bill would force local governments to uphold federal law.
The ACLU issued a travel warning for Texas after that state passed a similar law in 2017.