BOAs are one of ICE’s latest schemes to use local law enforcement to find and deport immigrants. They are agreements between ICE and local sheriffs in which ICE promises to pay sheriffs $50 for every immigrant they hold and turn over to ICE, for up to 48 hours of detention.
Piloting An Unconstitutional Collaboration
On January 17, 2018, 17 Florida counties announced that they would enter into Basic Ordering Agreements with ICE. These counties were: Pinellas, Lee, Manatee, Bay, Walton, Hernando, Brevard, Polk, Indian River, Charlotte, Monroe, Sarasota, Columbia, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Hillsborough and Pasco. In May 2018, Lake County also signed a BOA with ICE.
As of January 2019, sheriffs in eight additional counties signed BOAs: De Soto, Flagler, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Seminole, and Highlands. By the first week of January, BOAs had spread to Nassau and St. Johns counties, and beyond Florida to St. Charles Parish in Louisiana.
A Racist Law Expands BOAs Across Florida
On May 2, 2019, the Florida Legislature passed the anti-immigrant and unconstitutional Senate Bill 168, enacted as Chapter 908 of Florida Statutes (“SB 168”). The law, drafted by anti-immigrant hate groups, forces Florida counties to help ICE find and deport people. Signing a BOA is specifically listed as a way to comply with SB 168.
Since SB 168 was passed, several counties that previously did not collaborate with ICE, including Alachua, Volusia, and Gulf, have now signed BOAs. Immigrants in those counties are now at risk of deportation if they get picked up by the police.
As of August 2019, the total number of Florida counties with BOAs was 46 counties, including: Alachua, Volusia, Gulf, Lafayette, Levy, Washington, Jefferson, Taylor, Hendry, Sumter, Calhoun, Franklin, Hardee, Madison, Holmes, Gilchrist, Leon, Lake, and Union.
SPLC is currently monitoring the remaining Florida counties, as well as following the potential spread of BOAs nationwide, and will continue to update this page as information is received.
A Failed Constitutional Workaround
Multiple federal courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional for local law enforcement agencies to keep people detained in jail once their criminal cases have ended, in order to give ICE a chance to pick them up and deport them. As a result of those court rulings, many sheriffs in Florida became concerned that they, too, would get sued because of the unlawful holds, known as ICE detainers. In order to protect themselves, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the Florida Sheriffs Association, and ICE came up with a constitutional workaround: Basic Ordering Agreements.
On December 3, the SPLC sued Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay for illegally holding a U.S. citizen in the county jail on an ICE hold. The suit is the first to challenge a Florida sheriff for unlawfully detaining people at ICE’s request as part of a BOA. It is part of the SPLC’s strategy to stop collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement under BOAs before ICE attempts to expand the BOA program beyond Florida. The SPLC is co-counseling this case with the ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP.
The SPLC has also sued Governor Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, in their official capacities, to end SB 168.
Join Our Fight Against BOAs
The resources below will help advocates who want to fight BOAs in their counties understand how BOAs came to be, what Florida sheriffs are hoping to accomplish, and why BOAs ultimately hurt communities.