After running an overtly racist campaign in which he chained himself to Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has bought himself quite a bit of goodwill from the local and national press by being not-so-bad on issues like the environment.
Right on schedule, then, the old Ron is back, along with his fellow Florida Republicans. Politico reports that the GOP-led legislature and DeSantis are set to pass a law before the end of the legislative session to ban sanctuary cities—municipalities that have vowed not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities—in the state of Florida. The bill passed the Florida House on Wednesday, and will now go to the Senate.
This is despite the fact that Florida doesn’t actually have any sanctuary cities.
This is right out of the playbook used by other state GOPs. In 2017, a sanctuary city bill became a central issue in the gubernatorial race in Virginia; the following year, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed a bill by the legislature to ban sanctuary cities.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the White House had considered dumping detained migrants into sanctuary cities as some sort of weird retaliation (? I guess?) against Democrats. Trump himself later confirmed he wants to do that.
The Florida bill, according to Politico, would ban municipalities from adopting sanctuary city policies, even penalizing local officials who defy the order, and would “call on” local police to work with cooperate with ICE and other immigration authorities. Just one GOP state Sen., Anitere Flores of the Miami area, has announced plans to vote against the bill because of its “perceived message” to immigrants.
Democrats argue that the bill is posturing by DeSantis and Republicans to play to their nativist base ahead of the 2020 election. “This is a political game by our opposition,” Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani told Politico. “My opponents can say I voted for illegal aliens. That’s what this is about.”
The move might not be without consequences, however. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a travel warning to Florida should the bills pass. “Both Florida residents, citizens and non-citizens, and travelers could face risks of being racially profiled and being detained without probable cause,” the ACLU said.
“If Florida State Bill 168 and House Bill 527 pass, it would undermine local governments’ ability to protect the civil rights of their residents by forcing local officials to cooperate with ICE,” the ACLU continued. “It would also put immigrants at risk of violence, potentially forcing victims and witnesses to stay silent for fear of deportation.”