ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Friday at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office that he said contained a set of continuing steps meant to “keep illegals out of the state of Florida.”
“People will say, ‘Well, let Texas worry about that or Arizona or whatever.’ Let me tell you, people coming illegally, a lot of them are trying to get here in the state of Florida, OK? And so this is something that absolutely affects us,” DeSantis said. “... I mean, you know, look, everyone in the United States wants to come to Florida — I guess everyone around the world (too).”
SB-1808, AKA “Immigration Enforcement,” contains a set of measures the governor first proposed at a news conference in Jacksonville last December, where he blamed the Biden administration’s “reckless” border policies for a man’s stabbing death that October and repeated claims the White House was landing flights of illegal migrants at Jacksonville International Airport. At Friday’s news conference, his tone did not change much.
“The drugs that are coming in affect us and then just the sheer number of people. If he’s letting all these people in, and they’re going to all communities across our country, just think how many schools are going to be overwhelmed, other health care, other types of public services just because they can’t keep control of the border,” DeSantis said. “So it has a profound impact on communities all across this country, and it does have a profound impact in Florida.”
The legislation will pull from $12 million set aside in the upcoming state budget for immigration enforcement to make the following changes:
- Altering which data is to be reported to the state by the clerk of court, county detention facilities and Department of Corrections on either a monthly or annual basis, including inmates’ immigration status.
- Updating the definition of “sanctuary policy” to refer in part to a law, policy, practice, procedure or custom adopted by a state entity or local government entity that prohibits a law enforcement agency from being provided the “immigration status of an inmate or detainee” in custody.
- Requiring each law enforcement agency that operates a county detention facility to enter into a written agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to participate in the immigration program established in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which would qualify officers and employees of said agencies to “perform a function of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens,” the act states.
- Deterring contractors and private entities from relocating people to Florida who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border by prohibiting any person, firm or corporation from signing a contract with a government agency in order to knowingly transport illegal migrants to the state.
DeSantis announced a statewide “strike force” — comprised of law enforcement officers from the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and sheriff’s offices — has already begun working to interdict “drug smuggling, human trafficking, as well as illegals that are illegally carrying firearms throughout the state of Florida.”
“They’ve already done seven illegal aliens, arrested for human smuggling and drug possession. Five of the aliens were from Honduras, two are from El Salvador, and they’re all now in jail. One of them had an active Interpol warrant, and so they were able to recover off these illegal aliens enough fentanyl to kill 2,000 people in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
The governor also announced he had petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate human smuggling networks that he said connect the U.S.-Mexico border to Florida.
“The grand jury will examine the effects of those international networks on Florida and how they have violated Florida law. And the purpose of the grand jury will be to investigate individuals and organizations that are actively working with foreign nationals drug cartels coyotes to illegally smuggled minors, some as young as two years old across the border,” DeSantis said. “... The grand jury will also investigate local governments that are aiding this smuggling scheme by intentionally violating our state law against sanctuary jurisdictions.”
At the Jacksonville news conference last year, DeSantis clarified it had been more than a month since a plane suspected of carrying illegal migrants had flown into the city.
Similarly on Friday, DeSantis acknowledged that it had been “months” since a bus carrying foreign nationals was stopped in Florida.
“There’s been no buses that have come in the last however many months, and that’s a good thing, we don’t think that they should be busing people in,” DeSantis said. “Any of the buses that have had foreign nationals on them when law enforcement has stopped (them), those all were foreign nationals that did have visas to do agriculture work or something like that and so that’s legal and so they’re doing it, so I hope that we don’t see- but my fear is, is that, you know, they’re going to just start loading people on buses and sending them everywhere.”
DeSantis was joined at the bill-signing event by Florida Highway Patrol Director Col. Gene Spaulding and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Interim Commissioner Mark Glass, among others.
The measures within the law are effective immediately.