World

Florida passes measure to ban 'sanctuary cities'

AFP-JIJI

Lawmakers in Florida on Thursday passed a bill prohibiting so-called sanctuary cities, requiring local law enforcement to cooperate with immigration authorities.

The measure comes as President Donald Trump pushes policies aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, while frequently demonizing the migrants as criminals.

Florida’s lower house passed the bill 68-45 and it was sent to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally who campaigned on taking a tough stance against illegal immigration.

“We are a stronger state when we protect our residents, foster safe communities and respect the work of law enforcement at every level,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“Local law enforcement agencies can and should work with the federal government to ensure that accountability and justice are one in our state.”

The soon-to-be law requires police and other local law enforcement agencies to comply with federal agencies’ order of an “immigration detainer” — holding a person who is believed to be a “removable alien” under federal law.

In sanctuary cities — such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York — local law enforcement limit cooperation with U.S. immigration officials.

Florida has no sanctuary cities, according to local media.

“This bill is about respecting the rule of law,” said Sen. Joe Gruters, who sponsored the legislation and also chairs the Republican Party of Florida.

“It’s about cooperating with the federal government, and it’s about promoting public safety.”

The American Civil Liberties Union issued a “travel alert” for Florida, a hub for Latin American immigration and home to large communities of Cubans, Venezuelans and Haitians.

“Both Florida residents, citizens and non-citizens, and travelers could face risks of being racially profiled and being detained without probable cause,” it said.

The group recommended that all residents memorize the phone number of an immigration lawyer.

According to the U.S. Census, immigrants make up 20 percent of Florida’s population, although in large cities like Miami and Orlando the ratio is closer to half.