President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration is turning Florida into a major immigration battleground. Republican Florida lawmakers are seeking tougher immigration bills. However, Democratic lawmakers are fighting back with a new legislation to expand “sanctuary” policies.
Florida Trust Act hopes to keep undocumented immigrants protected.
Recently, Rep. Carlos Smith, D-Orlando, had sponsored the Florida Trust Act. This bill is meant to limit “certain actions” of state and law enforcement agencies when it comes to immigration enforcements. This bill also affects school officers and security agencies.
At the same time, the bill would also prohibit security agencies from making an inquiry about the immigration status of people. It also restricts the use of state law officers in enforcing the federal immigration policy without any court order. The bill also says that those taken into custody must be granted legal counsel.
Meanwhile, the bill asserts that putting state and local departments on federal immigration enforcement is not a good use of limited resources. “To distract them from that mission by asking the already limited law enforcement resources to be directed to enforce federal regulation jeopardizes the safety of the general public,” Smith explained, according to The Orlando Political Observer.
Republicans tackling immigration with seven bills.
On the other hand, the Florida Trust Act is facing opposition from Republican lawmakers. They are backing seven immigration bills that would see major changes in immigration laws if passed. According to a report from Naples Daily News, the bills seek to deny local governments five years of funding if they don’t comply with federal immigration authorities. The bills also propose an upgrade on penalties for violent crimes by undocumented immigrants. Moreover, the bills would require employers to ensure that its workers are all documented. Meanwhile, a repeal is being proposed for in-state tuition fees for children belonging to undocumented immigrants.
At the same time, these bills are seeking an increase in background checks for refugees. On the other hand, it wants to end Florida’s participation in the refugee resettlement program.
According to a report from Sunshine State News, Florida was home to almost one million undocumented immigrants back in 2012. It has several sanctuary cities such as Miami, Tampa, DeLeon Springs, Lake Worth, Sunrise and Deltona. It also has sanctuary counties such as Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Broward, Hernando, Pinellas and Pasco.