Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a bill Friday banning sanctuary cities in his state.
How many sanctuary cities are there in Florida?
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are currently no sanctuary cities in the state of Florida, but Alachua County has declared itself to be a sanctuary county.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a February 2017 blogpost that he would "have no hesitation in declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary from harmful federal immigration laws," but a spokesman clarified a few days later that Kriseman had meant only that it was a sanctuary "in spirit." The sheriff of Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg, added that the county was not "and will not be a 'sanctuary county' for people who commit crimes. Regardless of statements made for political purposes."
What happened now?
On Friday, DeSantis signed a bill that would require "state entities, local government entities, and law enforcement agencies to use best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law." It also specifically calls out "unlawful sanctuary policies."
DeSantis said that the law was in the interest of "public safety." He added that without the bill, illegal immigrants could commit crimes "and then just walk out the door and continue to do it." This law was something that DeSantis had promised during his campaign.
An estimated 200,000 illegal immigrants live in the state of Florida.
This law could provide an example to other states, to either join California, Illinois, and a handful of others in becoming sanctuary states or to follow Florida and ban sanctuary laws altogether. Most sanctuary legislation to date has been done on a county or local level, creating a patchwork system where laws are enforced haphazardly.