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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Civil rights and immigrants’ rights organizations across the state denounced Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of SB 1808 into law today. The groups say the law is discriminatory and seeks to unjustly and unlawfully target immigrant communities.

SB 1808 forces every law enforcement agency that operates a county detention facility to enter into a 287(g) agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), regardless of the high costs associated with such an agreement or whether the law enforcement agency or the community it serves desires it. A 287(g) agreement forces local law enforcement officers to use its resources to carry out federal ICE duties, further entangling local government in matters under federal control and often leading to illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses. 

The law also prohibits state and local government entities from contracting with private businesses, unless those businesses can sign an attestation that they do not provide transportation to “a person into the state of Florida knowing that the person is an unauthorized alien.” This ill-defined designation may include people whose presence in the country is authorized by the federal government, but who now risk harassment merely for seeking to enter the state. This can include foreign-born residents and tourists who may have overstayed visas or are in the process of renewing their visas, as well as asylum seekers and children seeking to reunite with their families in Florida. The net result is that Black and Brown people will be targeted, profiled, and possibly prohibited from visiting Florida.

Even though Florida’s ban on sanctuary policies has already been found unconstitutional by a federal court, SB 1808 attempts to expand the ban on sanctuary policies and ensure that Floridians’ private information related to their immigration status can be shared with any state entity. Once again, the governor is scapegoating immigrants rather than providing real protections for victims of human trafficking, such as building a stronger foster care system and strengthening methods of providing certifications for victims seeking T and U visas.

Isabel Vinent Grimany, co-executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC): 

“This heinous law could potentially impact Cuban, Afghan, and Venezuelan asylum seekers, Ukrainian evacuees, pending DREAMers and TPS recipients, among others. It will mandate local law enforcement enter into controversial and ineffective federal 287(g) ICE contracts, costing local law enforcement precious tax dollars and undermining public safety. From business leaders, faith leaders and community leaders to former Cuban Pedro Pan refugees and retired law enforcement, a diverse group of Floridians are vehemently against this law. Floridians believe in a state that embraces all children, and demand lawmakers address real crises, such as skyrocketing rents. Instead, Gov. DeSantis’ future political ambitions consistently drown out the real needs of Floridians.”

Amy Turkel, interim executive director of the ACLU of Florida: 

“By signing SB 1808, Gov. DeSantis is directly attacking our immigrant community and specifically preventing vulnerable children and people seeking safety, from reuniting with their loved ones here in Florida. This unreasonable burden on transportation companies to attest to their knowledge of customers’ immigration status will only further perpetuate discriminatory, unlawful interrogations and racial profiling against immigrants. By signing this new law, Gov. DeSantis is putting lives at risk. He is purposely advancing an extremist, discriminatory anti-immigrant agenda that is harmful to all Floridians. This law fails our immigrant communities and the constitutional duty to provide all people equal protection under the law.”

Miranda Galindo, Senior Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF: 

“SB 1808 is another tactic in the political anti-immigrant war against Florida’s most vulnerable communities. Instead of protecting children and Floridians fleeing from violence and persecution, the governor is using unaccompanied children and asylum seekers as pawns in his partisan ambitions. What makes Florida special is its people, including our immigrant communities. We will keep fighting for all Floridians and to stop the demonization of immigrants.”

A.J. Hernández Anderson, Senior Supervising Attorney at Southern Poverty Law Center: 

“This law was passed by legislators who have no understanding of the complexities of immigration law. SB 1808 will lead to racial profiling and harm the very children and victims they claim to protect. Immigrant children have never been secretly transported to Florida — FBI background checks are required for all unaccompanied children, including people seeking asylum, children seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and people with Temporary Protected Status. In addition to the harm on immigrant children and their families, this law will be costly for transportation companies and will be practically impossible to comply with, thereby exposing those companies to severe legal liability and costs when they make mistakes deciding travelers’ immigration status. Bus drivers shouldn’t be trying to determine anyone's immigration status.” 

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