Florida Governor Signs Anti-Sanctuary City Bill Into Law

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis / Getty Images
June 14, 2019

In an aggressive attempt to enforce immigration law, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law banning sanctuary cities in the state. The law requires state agencies and law enforcement entities to support federal law enforcement when addressing illegal immigration in the state.

Sanctuary cities restrict cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, meaning that they can serve as safe havens for illegal immigrants looking to avoid deportation. Over the course of his tenure, the Trump administration has targeted sanctuary cities with funding cuts for refusing to work with federal agencies such as Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

There are currently no sanctuary cities in Florida, meaning the law bans any future defiance of federal immigration law from Florida's municipalities.

The law was one of the Republican governor's major campaign promises, the Miami Herald reported. It will go into effect in October.

State Sen. David Simmons (R.), co-sponsor of the law, addressed concerns that the law would damage relations between illegal immigrants and law enforcement, according to Spectrum News 13. He stressed that the legislation only pertains to cooperation with the federal government after an individual has been arrested for a crime.

The law also provides for "an exception to reporting requirements for crime victims or witnesses," according to its text. If an illegal immigrant is a witness or a victim of a crime, he or she would not be deported for reporting it.

Activists slammed the law for threatening to hurt minority communities by discouraging crime reporting. Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Florida, said that it would make illegal immigrants less likely to report crimes, and accused state Republicans of trying to use racial tensions to divide the state's population, the Miami Herald reported.

DeSantis said that the bill's objective is straightforward: cooperation with the federal government, Florida Politics reported.