Republicans swat Democrats’ ‘sanctuary city’ bill amendments

Organizational session of the Florida Legislature

Five amendments filed by Democrats were clobbered on Thursday by the Republican-controlled Florida House as the chamber considered a controversial bill banning so-called sanctuary cities and threatening local officials with fines and removal from office.

The amendments would have added protections for DACA recipients, required federal immigration detainer requests to be accompanied by a judicial warrant and mandated the state to reimburse local government for the costs that come from fully complying with federal immigration authorities.

All of the amendments were struck down, moving the bill forward for a final vote without a single change to the original filing. A vote for final passage is expected as early as Friday.

While the bill received zero tweaks, it did receive a lot of criticism. Opponents of the bill, HB 9, called it “racist” and “unconstitutional.” The proposal has received similar backlash in the past. This is the third consecutive year state Rep. Larry Metz has introduced the bill.

Year after year, Metz has championed the bill because he wants to follow “rule of law” and hopes a “sanctuary city” ban in the state will “turn the tide to the flood of illegal immigration in the country.”

Ahead of the bill being considered on the full floor, dozens of activists flooded the Capitol to warn lawmakers that if it is passed, it will plant fear in the immigrant community, lead to racial profiling and make the immigrants less likely to cooperate with law enforcement agencies when a crime occurs.

House Democrats vowed to fight the bill and voted to take a locked caucus position against it. But the bill is expected to pass as it is a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is known for running a tight ship.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando, however, blasted Corcoran, who is widely expected to run for governor, suggesting he has only prioritized the proposal for “campaign mailers.”

“Is this why we are doing this?” Smith said.

As Corcoran fast-tracks the bill, there is no sign that the Senate will act differently on this issue from last year. Last Session, the measure got stuck in early Senate committees.

Republican Rep. Jay Fant predicts “a lot of pressure will be on the Senate” to move a bill to the governor’s desk. But there is not yet any corroborating indications.

Republican Sens. Aaron Bean and Greg Steube are championing the effort in their chamber. Bean said Thursday the fight to get the measure passed in the Senate this year will be a “nail-bitter.”

The bill has no scheduled hearings yet, but Bean said he hopes it will get a hearing next week.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.


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