Gov. DeSantis will sign bill banning ‘sanctuary cities’ Friday

The new law will fulfill a campaign promise.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a stop at Tampa Bay Academy on April 15. (CHRIS URSO  |   Times)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a stop at Tampa Bay Academy on April 15. (CHRIS URSO | Times)
Published June 13, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis will sign legislation Friday to ban so-called sanctuary cities in Florida, a proposal that was one of the most controversial issues of the 2019 legislative session and a top priority of the governor.

A DeSantis spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that he will sign the bill, and Senate sponsor Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who doubles as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, said he will be in Okaloosa County with DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., for a bill-signing ceremony.

DeSantis promised to ban sanctuary cities during his campaign for governor last year. The bill, which calls for one of the toughest bans on sanctuary cities in the nation, was formally sent to the governor Thursday.

On sanctuary cities bill, Pinellas sheriff tells immigrant community, ‘You should not be concerned.’

The House and Senate passed the bill May 2 after heavy debate and a backlash from Democrats and immigrant-rights groups. Supporters of the bill pushed to force local governments and law-enforcement agencies to fully comply with federal immigration detainers and share information with federal immigration authorities after undocumented immigrants are detained.

Under the bill, local governments would be required to "use their best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law."

Gruters said undocumented immigrants living in the state, an estimated 200,000 people, should not fear the bill if they do not break the law. But Democrats argued minor offenses such as jaywalking or driving without a license could lead to deportation, which could strain immigrants’ relations with police.

Signing the bill (SB 168) will add to other efforts by DeSantis to increase cooperation with federal immigration authorities, including trying to spur local law-enforcement agencies and the Florida Department of Corrections to enter into cooperative agreements that allow local and state correctional officers to perform some of the duties of federal immigration agents.

"Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis asked the Florida Legislature to present him with meaningful legislation to uphold the rule of law and ensure that no city or county jurisdiction can get in the way of Florida’s cooperation with our federal partners to enforce immigration law," DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Ferre said in an email Thursday. "Public safety is paramount and local law enforcement agencies can and should work with the federal government to ensure that accountability and justice are one in our state."

The bill-signing ceremony will be held at the Okaloosa County Commission chamber, according to Gaetz’s website.