Florida AG Ashley Moody backs proposal to sue cities that don't cooperate with immigration authorities

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Attorney General Ashley Moody supports a Senate proposal that would give her the authority to file civil actions against local governments that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

"City officials must obey the laws that they swore to uphold," Lauren Schenone, a spokeswoman for Moody, said in a prepared statement. "The attorney general believes immigration laws should be respected and enforced and she supports the bill in its current form."



The Senate is moving forward with a bill that would ban so-called sanctuary cities. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, would give Moody the authority to file civil actions, such as seeking injunctions, against state or local government entities or law-enforcement agencies that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

Currently, there are no "sanctuary cities" in Florida.



The Senate bill (SB 168), which is a watered-down version of a House proposal, has sped through committees and will next be heard by the Senate Rules Committee. It could then go to the full Senate.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who opposes the bill, was critical of the possibility that the attorney general could file civil actions.

"This provision is about intimidating local officials into spending local tax dollars to go after neighbors in their communities who happen to be immigrants regardless of whether they are a threat to public safety," Rodriguez said. "If it's not related to public safety, it's the role of the federal government to enforce immigration law, and our attorney general should not be distracted from critical priorities like the ongoing opioid crisis or the epidemic of gun violence."

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