Senate immigration bill now weighed down with last-minute changes
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters

Legislation awaits final vote on Friday.

A bill that would ban sanctuary policies in Florida, which generated intense debate in the Senate, has been bogged down with five significant amendments.

Two came from Democrats. One was greeted as “unfriendly” by the Republican bill sponsor.

But as the bill (SB 168) waits for a final vote as soon as Friday, Sen. Joe Gruters of Sarasota repeated that his bill only intends to impact hardened criminals who are in the country illegally.

The idea behind the bill, which is shared by President Donald Trump, is that state and local governments and law enforcement agencies should “support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”

“This bill only deals with people who have been arrested for breaking state and and who have already been convicted,” Gruters said. “It seeks to ensure local governments cooperate with federal government officials.”

The legislation appears to be on the road to passage. But the House passed its own version (HB 527) earlier this week, and that legislation includes more punitive provisions, including fines for officials implementing sanctuary policies.

Whether the two chambers will have time to agree on one bill to send to Gov. Ron DeSantis is unclear. The House bill was referred to the Senate Rules Committee — which as of now isn’t scheduled to meet again for the remainder of Session. Sine Die is set for next Friday.

Moreover, changes have been made in the Senate’s measure. The first amendment approved Thursday generated the most immediate controversy.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat, proposed an amendment that carved out the state’s Department of Children and Families from following the law. That means investigators with that agency would not be subject to the same reporting rules as law enforcement agencies.

The measure made it through with the support of two Republican supporters—Tom Lee and Anitere Flores—but also because of the absence of three other Republican members.

It’s unclear how that will be dealt with before a final vote on the bill. Further amendments require a higher threshold to pass on third reading.

Second, Gruters proposed his own amendment granting the Governor the right to remove or otherwise hold accountable local officials implementing ‘sanctuary’ policies.

That largely affirms a right the Florida Supreme Court confirmed this week when the justices essentially upheld Gov. Ron DeSantis’ right to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Third, the Senate approved a friendly amendment from Sen. Manny Diaz, a Miami Republican. His amendment clarified that police could not search for detainer orders for individuals they spoke to solely as victims or witnesses to crimes.

“I am trying to protect witnesses and victims,” Diaz said. “Not criminals.” Gruters supported that.

But a similar amendment from Rodriguez that more forcefully excluded victims and witnesses to crimes even if they were arrested was shot down along party lines.

However, a different Democratic amendment won unanimous support in the Chamber. Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat, offered an amendment that listed out victims of particular crimes who would be exempt.

That list included many sensitive crimes where witnesses often could be charged with state crimes themselves, including murder, human or sex trafficking, rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, slavery, blackmail, extortion and witness tampering.

“Often the witness to a robbery is the day laborer at Home Depot looking for work, and the witness to a rape is an illegal alien facing deportation,” Pizzo said.

Gruters said he wanted to make crystal clear his bill sought to deport violent criminals. Because of that, he welcomed the amendment.

Finally, Sen. David Simmons, a Longwood Republican, filed substitute language making clear that bill governs those law enforcement agencies actually seeking to impede or prohibit communication and cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]



    April 26, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Lets see, we have Democrat / Socialist / Activist / Lawyers in the Northern Triangle of South America & Mexico; even as you read this instructing the populations the “benefits” & laws of coming top the USA…..”credible fear.” Then you have a Democrat House saying the crisis is “manufactured” as literally thousands attack our border daily? National Sovereignty is a myth to Democrats. The crisis is manufactured…by the Democrats themselves. Make no mistake about this, Democrats want this to happen and never stop.. They will with hold support allowing as many illegal aliens to enter the country before assisting in border security (if ever). Democrats offer rewards, incentives so…..More caravans on the way.

    The current migration at our border is costing U.S taxpayers a Kings ransom. Fleeing persecution? or fleeing for freebies? they sure don’t stay in Mexico when they reach “safety” or ask or offered political asylum in Mexico. Why? because Mexico will give them NOTHING. So they make the long journey to our border, our generous Democrats, and our tax dollars. Notice how many have made the long, difficult, dangerous journey to our country 8-9 months pregnant? Give birth on American soil and the U.S. taxpayers will not only pay for the birth of you’re child but will also give you state government assistance.

    TPS / DACA
    To Democrats/Progressives/Socialists (whats the difference?) programs like Temporary Protective Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA) are permanent programs. There is nothing “temporary or deferred” about these programs to Democrats. These programs are designed to admit refugees (usually from the third world) then Democrats fight to keep them here permanently using the charge of racism, religion, guilt against anyone opposed. Simple formula works great.

    It seems Democrats view U.S. citizens as acceptable collateral damage to their future long range goals of flooding the country with refugees & illegal aliens and having taxpayers paying the cost. Democrat politicians and their voters have put families at risk of being victimized by illegal aliens as in the cases Kate Steinly (nothing done) then, Mollie Tibbetts, (nothing done) Police Cpl. Ronil Singh, (nothing done) now Bambi Larson; butchered in her home, nothing will be done…who’s next? These victims would be alive today if our border was secured. Most of these killers have been deported numerous times. Bambi ‘s killer claimed “amnesty” to get into the country.

    Google search “illegal alien crime” or “victims.”

    Just a few examples of the more outrageous costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children & grand children as has been passed on to us.

    * City emergency services Taxpayer pay for every police, fire, paramedic service call for illegal aliens in their city. Taxpayers also pay for all hospital, emergency room treatments, ambulances, medications….everything. Hospital wait times for citizens are negatively impacted.

    *Cost of educating illegal aliens is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers on average $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the millions spent on bilingual ED, instructors, special need children & day care. It is estimated nearly 100,000 illegal aliens graduate each year……you do the math. School class size are also negatively impacted by illegal aliens and our students suffer as a result.

    *Taxpayers in some states are funding “in state college tuition” discounts for illegal aliens. (AZ voted to terminate this taxpayer expense.) Cost to taxpayers over a billion dollars annually.

    *About one in five inmates in federal prison are foreign-born, & more than 90% of those are in the U.S illegally. This does not include local jails and state prisons. At roughly $24,000 per year expense per inmate.

    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate, process Illegal aliens in the criminal justice system.

    *$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC, & taxpayer funded school lunches. Visit youtube search “cost of illegal immigration.”

    *Mexico received 33 billion last year in remittance from our country. $120 billion total was sent out of the United States in total remittance last year.

    *Every child birth by illegal aliens in the U.S is paid for with tax dollars.In the US, the average cost to have a baby without complications during delivery, is $10,808, which can increase to $30,000 when factoring in care provided before and after pregnancy (July 9, 2018 google.)

    * Section 8 housing. Illegal aliens take full advantage of this program. Citizens & their families in poverty in many cases wait years behind non citizens for emergency housing.

  • Bill

    April 26, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Democrat 2020 Platform & Goals:

    *Open Borders.
    *Sanctuary Cities.
    *Elimination of ICE
    *Disarming Americans.
    *Voting rights for illegal aliens.
    *Pack the courts with radical liberal judges (Like the 9th circuit)
    *Increase refugee’s from the third world.
    *Illegal aliens allowed to hold public office.
    *Free Abortions (Taxpayer funded)
    *The green new deal.
    *End of Electoral College
    *Free health care for all including non citizens (taxpayer funded)
    *Raise Minimum Wage
    *Have adolescents vote
    *!00% free college for all, including non citizens. (tax payer funded)
    *Reparations for every race “harmed” by the white man.
    *Convicts, Terrorists voting.
    *Susie & Bobby using the same restrooms.
    *Late term abortions.

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