The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) went on Twitter Monday to warn, “immigrants and people of color to use extreme caution when traveling to Florida.”
The ACLU’s tweet comes in light of the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, urging Florida’s legislature to pass laws that would ban sanctuary cities. The laws would prevent police departments from refusing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in apprehending illegal immigrants. Florida has one of the largest illegal immigrant populations in the nation; estimated at more than 700,000 people.
ACLU of Florida said that the state’s recent push for anti-sanctuary city law, in the form of Senate Bill 168, “raises several constitutional concerns and tramples on the civil rights and liberties of actual or perceived immigrants.”
“SB 168 requires every Florida county and municipality to expend maximum local resources to enforce federal immigration law and participate in civic liberties violations,” they wrote. “Moreover, it does not provide any funding or reimbursement for its costly mandate. Specifically, this bill provides that no state entity, law enforcement agency, local government entity, state university, or representative thereof may adopt or have a ‘sanctuary policy.’”
The bill passed Florida’s Infrastructure and Security committee last March and, “will be voted on by both chambers before May 3,” according to Fox News.
DeSantis is a proponent for border security. Through late 2018 and into 2019, he promised voters that he would push for legislation to require Florida businesses to use E-Verify, a federal database that checks to make sure that new hires are eligible to work in the U.S.
Stopping sanctuary cities is another one of his goals, but Melissa Taveras, spokesperson for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said that Florida has no such cities.
“Anyone who says that there is a sanctuary city in the state of Florida, especially if they're a policymaker, that would be very concerning to me because it simply does not exist,” she said.
Fox News said that Republican lawmakers identify several cities in Florida as “pseudo-sactuary” cities. Areas like Orlando and West Palm Beach may not be sanctuary cities in the traditional sense, but, “they prevent law enforcement officials from asking about immigration status when they make arrests.”