DeSantis wants the power to remove Florida officials who don't cooperate with immigration authorities


Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis speaks with reporters at his Election Day rally after declaring victory over his democratic opponent Andrew Gillum. - PHOTO BY JOEY ROULETTE
  • Photo by Joey Roulette
  • Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis speaks with reporters at his Election Day rally after declaring victory over his democratic opponent Andrew Gillum.
As Republican lawmakers seek to ban so-called sanctuary cities, Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to make sure legislation would give him power to take action against officials who do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

A sanctuary-city bill is one of the governor’s top priorities during this year’s legislative session. The Senate is expected Thursday to take up its version of a sanctuary-city bill (SB 168) and consider an amendment that says the governor “may initiate judicial proceedings in the name of the state” against local or state officials who do not cooperate with enforcing immigration laws..

“The governor is supportive of this measure which reiterated his constitutional authority to remove an executive or administrative state, county or municipal” officer for violating state law, Helen Ferre, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, told The News Service of Florida.

After hours of debate about issues involving undocumented immigrants and the state’s role in enforcing immigration laws, the House on Wednesday passed a bill (HB 527) that includes the language about the governor’s role.

Senate sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said he wants to align the House and Senate bills, while at the same time adding “more teeth” to the enforcement of his measure. Without the amendment, the bill would only give the attorney general authority to bring civil actions against officials who back sanctuary-city policies.

Gruters, who doubles as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, has made the sanctuary-city issue his top priority this legislative session. The freshman senator said it is important to ensure law enforcement agencies comply with federal immigration laws, a sentiment that is popular among the Republican base in the state.

Senate Democrats, however, were poised to put up a fight on Thursday with a series of amendments that deal with issues such as requiring federal immigration officials to provide judicial warrants when asking local law enforcement agencies to hold undocumented immigrants.

Gruters, however, has successfully navigated the controversial bill through committees, after years of the Senate not advancing similar measures.

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, said he plans to pursue a "friendly" amendment that would also add protections under the bill for undocumented immigrants who are crime victims or witnesses.

Diaz said he supports the Senate bill despite being targeted by Spanish-language ads urging him to vote against it.

If the Senate proposal moves forward this week, it is likely that legislation barring sanctuary city policies will pass the Legislature. But the House and Senate will still need to iron out differences in their proposals, particularly on a tougher stance taken by the House on enforcement.

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

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.