The Florida Legislature passed a high-profile Republican bill on Thursday banning sanctuary policies that protect undocumented immigrants and requiring law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The bill passed the House on a 68-45 vote with Democrats opposed, shortly after it cleared the Senate by a 22-18 mostly party-line vote, as the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has supported the measure and is expected to sign it into law.
“We are a stronger state when we protect our residents, foster safe communities and respect the work of law enforcement at every level,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in a statement.
The legislation would require local officials to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers for undocumented immigrants who are arrested or convicted of a crime, exempting crime victims and witnesses. It would ban local governments from enacting sanctuary policies to protect those immigrants from deportation and require them to notify ICE when an inmate subject to a detainer is released.
No Florida city or county currently has a sanctuary policy. But Republicans said it would ensure respect for federal immigration laws by preventing local and state officials from refusing to comply. Under the bill, the governor could suspend officials who defy immigration laws and they could be sued by the attorney general to force compliance.
Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, told the Herald-Tribune: “This bill isn’t anti-immigrant and it’s dangerously disingenuous to suggest otherwise.”
“We are a nation of immigrants, proudly so,” Fetterhoff said. “But we are also a nation of laws.”
The bill was one of the most hotly-contested of this legislative session, with several versions bouncing between the House and Senate over the past two months. One provision that was stripped out would have subjected officials who defy immigration laws to steep fines. Another section that was dropped would have exempted the Department of Children and Families from its requirements.
It sparked protests around the state and led the American Civil Liberties Union to warn immigrants against traveling to Florida. It also is expected to lead to lawsuits seeking to nullify it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.