According to the Immigration Policy Center, about 20 percent of those residing in Florida are foreign-born immigrants. Immigrants have made enormous contributions to the state of Florida, and the attorneys at Liebenhaut Law are committed to protecting immigrants’ rights and representing them in a professional, respectable, and committed manner. A major component of successfully handling cases is being informed of the quickly evolving legislature in our country, especially at a time when immigration issues are at the forefront of policymaking. President Obama’s executive actions to prevent deportation of many undocumented immigrants, as well as an expected influx of immigrants from countries such as Cuba, Syria, and others, has induced a response from policymakers at the federal and state level. In Florida, for example, legislators have proposed bills that target and criminalize immigration. House Bill 9 would make the presence of an individual after a final deportation order a felony of the first degree. A second bill, House Bill 675, raises a wider range of issues that are a concern to Florida’s immigrant population.
Among the actions proposed in HB 675 are the prohibition of “sanctuary policies”, requirement of state and local government entities to comply with and support the enforcement of federal immigration law, and placement of increased responsibility on state officials who are involved in “sanctuary” policies, customs, or actions. As defined in the proposed bill, a sanctuary policy is a “law, policy, practice, procedure, or custom adopted or permitted by a state entity, law enforcement agency, or local governmental entity which…knowingly prohibits or impedes a law enforcement agency from communicating or cooperating with a federal immigration agency with respect to federal immigration enforcement…” However, there is no federal definition for “sanctuary” jurisdiction, which is interesting because immigration is primarily under the authority of the federal government. With this in mind, we have to question whether a bill prohibiting sanctuary cities and policies is relevant or necessary when there is no legal definition of such. According to the House of Representatives Staff Analysis of HB 675, some of the policies considered to provide sanctuary include not asking an arrested or incarcerated person his or her immigration status, not alerting ICE before releasing an alien from custody, and declining to honor an immigration detainer. However, the federal courts and government have established that an ICE detainer is a request and does not require compliance.
The 14th amendment to the United States Constitution forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Documented or otherwise, every individual within United States territory is a person who is guaranteed certain protections. The staff at Liebenhaut Law are committed to working with those undergoing the immigration process on both a personal and professional level, ensuring you will receive the best possibe guidance through every step. We follow legislation closely in order to provide the most successful representation and advice to our clients, the ones directly affected by such proposals. Call Brandon Smoot at Liebenhaut Law for a free case evaluation on any immigration issue.