Florida Republicans want to ban nonexistent 'sanctuary cities' again

by

comment
Though Florida has never actually established so-called "sanctuary cities," Republican state lawmakers are still attempting to pass a ban on them.

The issue crept to the surface once again last month when state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, proposed a bill that would ensure local governments comply with requests from federal immigration authorities. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis voiced his enthusiasm for the legislation, calling it an important issue during his first State of the State address last week.



Democratic lawmakers, however, remain skeptical. At a press conference at the state Capitol on Monday, several Democrats from the House and Senate voiced their concerns of how a ban would inflame the problem.

"There is no such thing as a sanctuary city," says state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez said. "The proponents of this legislation have made it clear that part of the reason they're proposing this legislation is to create sanctuary cities where there aren't. Right now there are no jurisdictions in Florida that are out of compliance with information sharing with the federal law."



Lawmakers invited Natalie Charco, a Florida State University student who comes from an undocumented family and is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, to speak on behalf of the measure's opponents.

Charco argues that the legislation will speak fear in immigrant communities.

"A broken taillight can lead to separating families," she says. 

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, also points to how several Florida Republicans have advocated for granting Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans fleeing the Nicolás Maduro regime, such as former governor and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who called on President Donald Trump to expand TPS for Venezuelans seeking asylum last month.

"Republicans have to decide. You can't have it both ways," Smith says. "Are you going to stand with Venezuelans who are fleeing the Maduro regime, or are you going to deport them?"

Smith adds: "I want to repeat one more fact: In 2018, 35 percent more Venezuelans were deported by ICE back to their home country, compared to 2017. Think about that as Republicans are tripping over themselves to appear to be in solidarity with the Venezuelan people. ... This totally goes against the message we should be sending."

In the course of four years more than 70,000 petitions from Venezuelans seeking asylum have been submitted to U.S. authorities, according a report from Univision. However, detailed statistics on how many those cases were successful in acquiring asylum isn't publicly available.

The legislation would require all jurisdictions to hold individuals for up to 48 hours if ICE has placed a detainer on them.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.