Gov. DeSantis signs bill banning sanctuary cities in Florida

'We are a stronger state when we protect our residents,' DeSantis says

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a Feb. 13, 2019, news conference.

ORLANDO, Fla. - All law enforcement agencies in Florida will have to cooperate with federal immigration authorities under a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill, signed Friday, allows DeSantis to remove local officials from office if they adopt "sanctuary" policies that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The legislation would require law enforcement agencies 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.

The governor is a close ally of President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican who has made illegal immigration a top priority.

The bill signing was held in Okaloosa County in the western Panhandle, one of the state's most conservative areas. An overflow crowd attended the bill signing, cheering wildly when Trump was mentioned.

"Sanctuary city" is a broad term applied to jurisdictions that have policies in place intended to limit cooperation with, or involvement in, federal immigration enforcement actions. Many of the largest cities in the country have such policies.

After the bill passed, DeSantis, who made the ban a campaign promise, said in a statement, "We are a stronger state when we protect our residents, foster safe communities and respect the work of law enforcement at every level."

At least 11 other states have taken similar steps.

Trump says local sanctuary policies endanger public safety, but his administration's efforts to cut off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities have been stymied so far by numerous court challenges.

Supporters of sanctuary policies argue they keep communities safe by fostering trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. 

Here's a look at other states that have passed measures banning sanctuary cities, and states that are weighing whether to follow suit:

Alabama

The state's controversial 2011 law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, HB 56, also included a ban on sanctuary cities.

Arizona

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of SB 1070, the Arizona bill that sought to give local authorities more power to enforce federal immigration laws. But it kept in place the section that requires local police to check someone's immigration status while enforcing other laws if they believe someone might be in the country illegally.

Effectively, that makes it impossible for any local government to avoid cooperating with the federal government to some degree on immigration enforcement. But activists in at least one city are trying, circulating a petition for Tucson, Arizona, to become a sanctuary city -- and to get that measure on the November ballot.

Arkansas

This state's lawmakers approved a measure banning sanctuary cities last month. As the bill, SB411, made its way through the state Legislature, Gov. Asa Hutchinson -- a former Department of Homeland Security official -- had initially expressed concerns that a provision allowing law enforcement officers to stop people and question them about their immigration status would encourage racial profiling.

But after the measure passed, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Hutchinson told reporters he'd decided to sign it because the lawmaker sponsoring the bill had promised to amend that provision in a future vote.

Hutchinson signed the bill into law on April 17, spokesman J.R. Davis said.

Georgia

In 2009, Georgia passed a law banning sanctuary cities.

The state also passed a measure in 2006 requiring local governments to submit an annual certification that they don't have sanctuary policies in order to receive government funds. And in 2017 the state's governor signed a bill that bans sanctuary policies at private colleges.

Iowa

Iowa lawmakers passed a measure last year requiring state law enforcement to comply with detainers -- requests that federal immigration authorities make for local jurisdictions to hold undocumented suspects for an additional 48 hours after they're scheduled to be released.

Mississippi

There aren't currently any sanctuary cities in Mississippi, but that didn't stop state lawmakers from approving a ban on them in 2017.

The measure blocks counties, cities and colleges "from creating, planning, implementing, assisting, participating in, or enabling a sanctuary policy."

Missouri

Lawmakers in Missouri passed a state immigration law in 2008 that cut off grant funding to sanctuary cities.

Among its authors: immigration hardliner Kris Kobach, who was a law professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City at the time.

North Carolina

Lawmakers in this Southern state passed a ban on sanctuary cities well before Trump took office. Then-Gov. Pat McCrory signed the measure back in 2015.

The state's House of Representatives approved a bill in April that would allow residents to file suit if they feel their local government isn't complying with immigration laws, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. But the measure hasn't yet cleared the state Senate.

South Carolina

Courts struck down most of South Carolina's 2011 immigration law. But some of it remains on the books, including a part that says no local entity can restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws, according to a report from the Institute for Southern Studies.

And to comply with state budget requirements this year, South Carolina's State Law Enforcement Division compiled a massive trove of paperwork verifying that local governments and police agencies weren't violating the state's immigration-related laws.

As The Post and Courier newspaper reported in March, "It took nearly 600 documents, hundreds of signatures from local officials and hours of work by law enforcement personnel to tell South Carolina's leaders what they admittedly knew: The state doesn't have any so-called sanctuary cities."

Tennessee

The state passed a ban on sanctuary cities in 2009. Lawmakers doubled down with another such measure in 2018.

House Bill 2315 says local governments that adopt or enact a sanctuary policy won't be eligible for state grants until they rescind or repeal the measure.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill banning sanctuary cities in his state in 2017.

The measure, known as SB4, was blocked by a lower court just before it went into effect, but an appeals court ruled in 2018 that most of the law can remain in effect while the court case challenging it plays out.

That decision applied to all but one provision of the measure, which would punish local officials for "endorsing" policies that limit enforcement of immigration laws.

Other states where sanctuary-related bills are pending

In addition to the states detailed above, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of April 2019 at least 21 state legislatures were weighing measures against sanctuary policies:

Colorado

Illinois

Maine

Massachusetts

Kentucky

Michigan

Minnesota

Missouri

Montana

North Carolina

North Dakota

New Hampshire

New Jersey

Ohio

Oregon

Pennsylvania

South Dakota

Virginia

Wisconsin

West Virginia

Wyoming

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