TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Under a Florida bill passed by the Senate, state agencies would be unable to start, continue, or renew contracts to work with companies that are found to transport undocumented workers to Florida. Senate Bill 1808 passed on partisan lines and heads to the Florida House for approval.
The bill also revises what Florida’s government considers a “sanctuary policy” and beefs up the requirements to work with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under the bill, as written, “common carrier” companies would be required to disclose to state agents if they transport undocumented immigrants, or “unauthorized aliens.”
Specifically, SB 1808 says that carriers who “willfully provide” any service to take an unauthorized alien into Florida, except to put them in detention, removal or departure processes, any state agency, corrections facility or department, or law enforcement entity would be prohibited from entering into contracts with those companies.
The bill does not specify a process to check if the service is provided knowingly or willingly by a company, and does not include language to require a company to check legal immigration statuses before transporting individuals.
However, the bill does require companies that work with Florida’s government to provide “an attestation” saying they have not knowingly or willfully provided services to transport someone who they know is an unauthorized alien, except to bring to them to a detention facility, remove them from the state, or help them leave the United States.
If a carrier company violates this attestation, the contract or agreement they have with the state of Florida is terminated.
For sanctuary policies, SB 1808 says a “Sanctuary policy” means a law, policy, practice, procedure, or custom adopted or allowed by a state entity or local governmental entity which prohibits or impedes a law enforcement agency from complying with 8 U.S.C. s. 1373 or which prohibits or impedes a law enforcement agency from communicating or cooperating with a federal immigration agency so as to limit such law enforcement agency in, or prohibit the agency from complying with immigration enforcement efforts.
In the bill’s text, those efforts are described as:
- Complying with an immigration detainer
- Complying with a request from a federal immigration agency to notify the agency before release of an inmate or detainee in custody by law enforcement
- Providing federal immigration agencies access to an inmate for interview
- Participating in programs or agreements authorized by the Immigration and Nationality Act
- Providing federal immigration agencies with an inmate’s incarceration status or release date
- Providing information to a state entity on the status of an inmate or detainee
Having passed the state senate along partisan lines, SB 1808 is now on its way to the Florida House. If it passes the House, it’ll go to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign or veto. The governor has already signaled support for the bill, and is likely to sign it into law upon receiving it from the House.
Immigration enforcement has been a big policy initiative of the governor, and other state lawmakers, since he took office. Following changes to border policy under President Joe Biden, DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody have increased their efforts to address immigration issues and policies in Florida, as well as assisting states along the U.S. southern border with security needs.
“You look at the border, we want, he said we want a secure border, well he’s the one that opened the border. Are you kidding me? If you look at the increase in people that are coming here illegally, two million people come illegally form over 100 different countries over the last year,” DeSantis said at a previous event in Tampa. “That was all as a result of the policy choices that were made upon him becoming president.”
The sentiment echoed previous statements by both DeSantis and Moody, centered on illegal immigration, and lawsuits the state filed against the federal government over what they call a border crisis. In answer to a previous request of assistance by the governors of Texas and Arizona, DeSantis had Florida law enforcement deploy out of state to help in Texas.
Under SB 1808, if passed, Florida law enforcement agencies operating a county detention facility would also be required to enter into a 287(g) agreement with ICE, meaning they would agree to have specific officers within a local agency handle immigration enforcement along with ICE.