Governor Signs Florida Anti-Sanctuary Bill Into Law
By David Jaroslav | June 20, 2019
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) fulfilled a 2018 campaign pledge and signed Senate Bill (SB) 168 into law on June 14, banning dangerous sanctuary policies across the Sunshine State.
At the signing ceremony Gov. DeSantis said, “[s]anctuary cities basically create law-free zones where people can come to our state illegally and our country illegally, commit criminal offenses and then just walk right out the door and continue to do it … In Florida, that will not happen.” He described the bill as “about public safety, not about politics. We must do everything within our power, and use all the tools available to us, to ensure that our communities are safe.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), added that it would “mak[e] sure we protect American citizens from the very bad, criminal illegal aliens that are here committing the worst crimes imaginable.”
President Trump praised DeSantis for signing the bill, tweeting that “[m]ore and more states want to do this but their governors and leaders don’t have the courage to do so.”
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey (R) expressed the view of many in law enforcement saying, “I tell everybody there are all sorts of ships in the ocean that can go across the seas … But there’s nothing [that] calms rough seas like partnerships. … This bill just simply says we are not only allowed, we are going to work with our federal partners[.]”
Opponents of the bill reacted with predictable outrage. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo called it “a xenophobic and hateful bill,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately condemned it as “anti-immigrant, unconstitutional, [and] inhumane,” and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) accused DeSantis of using “racial grievance to drive a wedge between Floridians.”
Many, particularly in the media, also repeatedly restated the often-heard and seemingly contradictory narrative, as if it were objective fact, that “there are no sanctuary cities in Florida.” Indeed, one article in the Miami Herald actually said in its headline, “There aren’t any in Florida.”
Yet FAIR in its May 2018 survey of sanctuary jurisdictions identified 15 in Florida, with Orlando following in July to become the 16th. Those numbers appeared to go down when counties began to see the writing on the wall with respect to the anticipated passage of anti-sanctuary legislation.
Additionally, numerous counties changed their policies, signing on to Basic Ordering Agreements (BOA’s) or Warrant Service Officer (WSO) agreements with ICE to honor detainers. Most recently, one of the staunchest sanctuary jurisdictions, Alachua County, signed a BOA after the passage of the anti-sanctuary legislation.
However, two of the state’s most populous counties, Palm Beach and Orange, have yet to change their previous sanctuary policies. Palm Beach still appears to require judicial warrants to honor detainers and Orange County only holds people for up to eight hours on a detainer, not the full 48 hours that they request and that federal law authorizes.
Most of the new anti-sanctuary provisions in the law take effect on July 1. However, the enforcement provisions, which allow Florida’s attorney general to sue sanctuary jurisdictions and the governor to remove sanctuary officeholders, will not take effect until October 1, giving law enforcement agencies time to comply.
A lawsuit by the open-borders crowd can probably be expected before October, too. But if the courts actually follow the law, they should uphold the bill’s constitutionality. They need only follow the opinion issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in El Cenizo v. Texas, which held Texas’ anti-sanctuary law, SB 4, to be constitutional.