Rep. Anika Omphroy spoke out Tuesday against the recently-signed law banning so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ (SB 168), saying she has begun carrying her passport in the event she is stopped by law enforcement.
“You’re going to end up in a situation where you have to prove you have a right to be here,” the Lauderdale Lakes Democrat told a gathering of the Urban League of Broward County Tuesday evening.
“I have started to travel with my passport everywhere I go. If you have an interesting last name or you look interesting, like I do, then you should probably carry your information with you also.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill on June 14 following a contentious debate prior to the bill’s passage. The act requires “state and local governments and law enforcement agencies … to support and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”
Democrats have warned the law will unnecessarily target immigrant communities, prompting a potential fear of law enforcement which could cause crimes in those communities to go unreported.
Republicans argued the law was necessary to promote compliance with the country’s immigration laws.
But Omphroy and other Democrats have noted that there aren’t currently any sanctuary cities within the state of Florida.
“We’re creating something that doesn’t exist in order to traumatize people who look like me,” Omphroy argued.
Republicans say the bill only targets criminals already being held by law enforcement. Democrats, such as Omphroy, worry that individuals being stopped for lesser offenses, such as driving without a license, could be targeted.
There’s also the case of Peter Sean Brown, who was nearly deported to Jamaica in April 2018 after turning himself in for a simple parole violation.
The other problem? Brown is a U.S. citizen who was born in Philadelphia. He was held for weeks upon request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement before the mix-up was finally caught.
The Legislature, including Republicans, have recognized the importance to address racial profiling among police before.
A recently-signed law banning texting while driving included provisions requiring cops to record the ethnicity of drivers. Those records will then be reviewed to ensure the law is not used as a pretext to pull over minorities. That bill earned bipartisan support.
Omphroy argued Tuesday that the sanctuary cities bill had the opposite effect, encouraging attendees to make sure they have their documents ready.
The American Civil Liberties Union even issued a travel advisory for Florida, arguing “Florida residents, citizens and non-citizens, and travelers could face risks of being racially profiled and being detained without probable cause.”
“It’s a sad reality of what we have to face now because of a Legislature that doesn’t understand that diversity is important,” Omphroy said Tuesday night.
“Be aware of the fact that this is our reality now. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it.”