Photo by Sen. Jose Rodriguez

TALLAHASSEE – A bill that would prohibit the practice of ‘sanctuary city’ policies in Florida and require local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities cleared its first of three senate committees.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the controversial measure before a capacity crowd with a 4-2 party-line vote; Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

Senate Bill 168 would prohibit ‘sanctuary’ policies within the State of Florida and require state and local law enforcement entities to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Republican Sen. Joe Gruters.

The bill would also mandate the recognition of immigration detainers: a process in which a law enforcement agency notifies ICE of ‘aliens’ arrested on criminal charges before the individual is released from criminal custody. The charged individual can then be held for up to “48 hours to allow immigration authorities to assume custody for removal purposes,” according to ICE’s website.

“[SB 168] does two things: It takes criminals off the streets, and it pre-empts local governments from enacting laws to prevent cooperation with federal laws and officials,” Gruters said about his bill.

Gruters also serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

In a press release from the ACLU of Florida, Legislative Director Kara Gross stated that “The role of law enforcement is to serve and protect communities, not to create an environment of fear or to do the work of federal ICE agents.”

Newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigned on the promise of banning sanctuary cities in Florida.

“We will stop incentivizing illegal immigration, which is unfair to our legal immigrants, promotes lawlessness and reduces wages for our blue-collar workers,” DeSantis said in his inaugural address.

Relatively unknown at first, DeSantis rose to prominence and narrowly defeated democratic candidate Andrew Gillum for Governor following an endorsement from President Trump.

The bill will be seen next by the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee.

Knight News will continue to track this bill. Check back for updates.