Florida House passes immigration legislation

Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
January 12, 2018

Florida’s historic capitol building and current state capitol building, in Tallahassee on August 31, 2013.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- The Florida House of Representatives passed legislation requiring Florida cities to follow federal immigration law or face consequences.

The vote comes in the wake of anti-immigration comments by the president.

Immigration activists lined the pathway to the House floor before the debate on a controversial bill to ban sanctuary cities in the state. It would impose fines of up to $5,000 a day on local governments that refuse to cooperate with immigration detainers.

The vote comes in the shadow of anti-immigration comments made by president Donald Trump towards Haiti and African countries.

Surrounded by House Democrats, Representative Al Jacquet (D-West Palm Beach) made an impassioned plea for Republicans to consider possible unintended consequences.

"Racial profiling is real," he said.

Republicans maintained the issue at hand comes down to making sure local governments follow the law.

"Rejecting the rule of law, members, has profound consequences," said Representative Ross Spano (R-Riverview).

Democrats also believe the legislation violates the U.S. Constitution.

"I don't see any court in this state or in this country upholding this piece of legislation," said Jacquet.

Speaking in Haitian, Jacquet tried to reassure the community they would be alright.

With a vote down party lines, the House approved the legislation.

The bill has passed the House before, but the Senate has never given it a hearing.

Similar legislation passed in Texas, but was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. The sponsor of Florida's bill anticipates legal challenges if it becomes law.

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