• Florida House passes 'sanctuary cities' bill

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax


    A bill that would ban so-called "sanctuary cities" is now in the Florida state Senate’s hands. 

    On Friday, the state House passed the bill for the third year in a row.

    For the past two years, the state Senate hasn’t gotten on board. 

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran said he believes the Senate will change its tune this year.

    “Hey, sometimes you’ve got to bang on the door several times before you kick it in,” Corcoran told Action News Jax. “I think some of the individuals who have been most outspoken against it aren’t in the Senate anymore from last year. So that’ll be a big game changer for us.”

    A sanctuary city is one that shields undocumented immigrants by refusing to fully cooperate with federal detention requests.

    The bill passed by the state House would allow Florida to fine local agencies if they’re deemed to be out of compliance with federal immigration laws.

    On the Senate side, the measure is being spearheaded by Fernandina Beach Republican state Sen. Aaron Bean.

    Some Democrats believe the bill is unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling.

    “Undocumented immigrants are just as American as the rest of us. They just don’t have the paperwork. This bill creates two criminal justice systems -- one for undocumented immigrants and one for everyone else,” said Orlando Democratic State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

    There are no official sanctuary cities in Florida, although the mayors of St. Petersburg and Tallahassee have both made public statements disagreeing with criminalizing undocumented immigrants in their cities. 

    Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is now running for governor.

    This is Corcoran’s final session as speaker. Action News Jax asked him whether he plans to announce his rumored run for governor after this legislative session wraps up.

    “At the end of that session, we’ll sit down. We’ll look at it, and we’ll figure it out. I’ve got a wife and six kids. I’ll sit down with them and we’ll make that determination then. But until then, we’ve got a big job to do and we intend to complete it,” Corcoran said.

    Next Up: