Gov. Ron DeSantis pushes 'sanctuary cities' ban

DeSantis is calling on legislators to approve a measure to ban sanctuary cities in the Sunshine State

Pushing a hard-line immigration stance that endeared him to conservative voters, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday called on lawmakers to pass a controversial measure to ban so-called sanctuary cities during the legislative session that begins next week.

The Republican governor also urged Florida sheriffs to join a handful of their colleagues participating in a federal immigration enforcement program in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, deputizes local law officials.

In addition, DeSantis instructed the state’s prisons chief, Mark Inch, to come up with a way the state Department of Corrections can also participate in the federal program, which allows state and local law enforcement officials to investigate, apprehend, detain and transport undocumented immigrants facing deportation. The program is known as the 287(g) program.

Shortly after taking office in 2017, President Donald Trump — an ally of DeSantis — ordered an expansion of the 287(g) program, which has since rapidly grown in parts of the country.

DeSantis, who made a crackdown on illegal immigration one of his campaign cornerstones and highlighted the issue in his inaugural address last month, made the announcements Tuesday during a news conference at Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis’ office in Brooksville.

Authorities in Hernando, Clay, Collier and Pasco counties, as well as the city of Jacksonville, are participating in the 287(g) program, which is widely criticized by civil-rights groups who contend it can lead to racial profiling and dissuade immigrants from reporting crimes.

DeSantis called on the state’s sheriffs to enter into agreements with federal authorities similar to the memorandum that allows Nienhuis’ office to train and authorize personnel to identify and process undocumented immigrants.