A proposed state law that would require Florida police to cooperate with immigration officials was trashed Friday by Miami’s police chief.
“The truth is I’d prefer not to have this job if I have to ask fellow officers to go check where someone came from before helping them,” Miami police Chief Jorge Colina said, according to the Miami Herald. Colina spoke on WURN-AM during a Spanish-language broadcast.
“I don’t care if you have papers or don’t have papers, where you came from, or who your parents are. That’s not my job. My job is to make sure everyone in this city is safe,” he said.
Colina was reacting to SB 168, a proposed state law that would effectively ban so-called sanctuary cities and require local police to honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to keep in custody anyone police arrest who might be an illegal immigrant and subject to being deported. Other states, such as New Jersey, are enacting legislation that goes the other way and bans collaboration between ICE and local police.
Colina, however, is misrepresenting what the law does.
Republican state Sen. Joe Gruters, the Florida bill’s sponsor, noted that only individuals who break the law need to worry about the new proposal.
“My advice is if you’re not breaking the law, this bill will not impact you whatever,” he said, according to Fox News.
Gruters said the law puts Florida into compliance with the federal government.
“It gets criminals off the streets and prevents local governments from enacting laws that prevents cooperation with federal law officials,” Gruters said last month as the bill cleared one committee, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
“This is just about making sure we follow the rule of law that exist on the books,” Gruters said.
Gruters said the bill does not seek to be punitive, but to keep people safe.
“I have a lot of empathy for the immigrant community. They are hard-working people that are obeying the laws across Florida, trying to do what’s right. This is not about them. This is not about immigration policy,” he said, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Earlier this month, when the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee approved the bill, committee chair Sen. Tom Lee, a Republican, said it was necessary even though Florida does not have sanctuary cities.
“Legislation is typically an effort to address an existing problem or it’s filed in anticipation of a potential problem down the road. In this case, having a definition might be helpful. Whether we have one today or not by this definition, sometimes it simplifies,” he said.
Florida’s growing immigrant population is becoming a concern, Lee said.
“We’re essentially pregnant with millions and millions of people who come here … most of them to make a better life. But they’re not here legally. People commit crimes and are becoming a liability to the lawful citizens of our state,” he said, according to the Miami Herald.
Democrats oppose the measure. State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat, said the bill is about gaining “political points.”
“This bill is about re-electing Donald Trump. That’s all this bill is,” she said.