TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The GOP-led Florida Senate on Friday passed a controversial bill to punish "sanctuary cities," but Democrats vowed to continue battling it after attached amendments sent it back to the state House.
- Shouts of outrage rang out in chambers upon SB 168's passage
- Bill goes back to state House due to attached amendments
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Shouts of outrage rang out in the state Capitol when SB 168 passed a state Senate vote, 22 to 18. The legislation fines so-called "sanctuary cities" that don't help federal immigration authorities arrest undocumented immigrants. Local governments could be fined up to $5,000 a day for noncompliance.
A similar bill passed the Florida House earlier this week, HB 527. Among the differences between the two chambers' bills are penalties for violating the policy: The House includes fines for officials who adopt sanctuary policies, and the Senate doesn't.
Gov. Ron DeSantis supports a sanctuary policy ban.
"This bill is unconstitutional, anti-immigrant, and does nothing to keep us safe," state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani said in a tweet. "Because of amendments attached to the bill, it'll have to come back to the House for us to approve. We'll be ready to keep fighting it," she said.
Outside a state senator's office in Brevard County, a group of protesters held a vigil to pray for the safety of immigrant families.
Flowers representing peace and hope were placed outside the door of state Sen. Debbie Mayfield’s office.
The protesters hoped to change Mayfield’s mind in voting in favor of the anti-sanctuary city bill.
“We will not accept these hateful messages. We are with our police officers and our law enforcement agencies," said Raed Alshaibi of the Islamic Society of Brevard County. “I have a lot of people in my congregation... who are concerned that they might be affected by this bill, because they don’t have any country to go back to with all the civil wars and the wars that we are a part of."
“I’m concerned as an attorney," immigration attorney Karen Iezzi said. "It's about holding people without a judicial warrant, and without due process."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.