Activists want Bob Buckhorn to oppose immigration bill proposed in Tallahassee


Immigration activists concerned about state legislation that they believe targets them held events throughout Florida on Wednesday, including in Tampa.

There are several bills that the groups, going under the name “We Are Florida” are criticizing that are percolating in Tallahassee this current session — none more so than a measure (HB 675) sponsored by Yamaha Republican Larry Metz that could penalize cities, counties and sheriffs in Florida who don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

“It’s going to create fear,” said Nancy Palacios, an organizer with the group Faith in Florida. “It’s going to create a lack of collaboration between the police force and the community, where people won’t want to report any kind of criminal activity or any kind of crimes because they would be scared to be asked their status.”

Palacios added that it was going to create fear in parents “who want to send their kids to school because they’ll fear that their kids might be reported over to immigration because they’re undocumented.”

Palacios was joined by several other activists who spoke to reporters outside of Tampa’s City Hall. They called on Mayor Bob Buckhorn to pass an ordinance that would preclude Tampa from participating with the state on such a law.

That would make Tampa a so-called “Sanctuary City,” of which there are hundreds around the country which have policies, laws, executive orders, or regulations allowing them to avoid cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement authorities.

The issue became toxic after the tragic death of a San Francisco woman last summer by an undocumented immigrant who had been recently released by the local sheriff.

The ACLU of Florida has released a report identifying some 30 counties in Florida that currently have policies declining to respond to Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests, or to honor them only in limited circumstances, such as when they are accompanied by a judicial warrant. They include Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Sarasota Counties.

“Proponents of this legislation want to believe that choosing not to face the legal liability and costs that come with ICE detainers is something only done in liberal enclaves — it’s not,” says ACLU of Florida Director of Public Policy Michelle Richardson. “Our report shows that law enforcement and elected leaders from every part of our state are making the smart decision to respect the Constitution, and to spare their taxpayers the legal liability of these unconstitutional holds. Members  preparing to vote on HB 675 should look very closely at this list and consult with the sheriffs in their counties to find out what would happen back home before making a politically-based decision in Tallahassee.”

Metz’ bill was supposed to come before the entire House for a vote on Wednesday, but was postponed.

“If HB 675 becomes law, these counties will be damned if they do, damned if they don’t,” added Richardson. “Faced with the legal liabilities of unconstitutionally detaining someone on one hand, and the penalties piled on by this bill on the other, every police stop or jailhouse booking becomes a minefield for Florida police.”

Mayor Buckhorn’s office has not responded to Florida Politics request for comment.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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