glasses - SB 786

Editor’s note: The regular session of the Florida Legislature begins March 7. In the meantime, Florida Food & Farm will post summaries and updates of bills that have been filed, in either the Senate or the House of Representatives, if they relate to agriculture, water or other appropriate topics.

SB 786, HB 697 prohibit sanctuary policies

Two similar bills — SB 786 and HB 697, both titled Federal Immigration Enforcement: Rule of Law Adherence Act — have been filed in the Florida Legislature.

Senate Bill 786 was sponsored by Aaron Bean (R-District 4) and co-sponsored by Greg Steube (R-Dist. 23) and Travis Hutson (R-Dist. 7).

Among the 18-page bill’s provisions: “prohibiting sanctuary policies; requiring state entities, local governmental entities, and law enforcement agencies to comply with and support the enforcement of federal immigration law; prohibiting restrictions by such entities and agencies on taking certain actions with respect to information regarding a person’s immigration status; (and) providing whistle-blower protections for persons who report violations.”

The term “sanctuary policies” refers to the policies of some counties and cities in the U.S. that limit how much they cooperate with federal immigration authorities, in order to protect undocumented aliens from deportation. For example, some counties or cities will not use their own tax dollars to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Civil penalties would apply

SB 786 also provides for civil penalties. “A person injured by … an alien unlawfully present in the United States, or the personal representative of a person killed by … an alien unlawfully present in the United States, has a cause of action for damages against a state entity, local governmental entity, or law enforcement agency in violation (of federal immigration law).”

In addition, under SB 786, public officials might not be able to use public money for their own defense: “Except as required by law, public funds may not be used to defend or reimburse a sanctuary policymaker or an official, representative, agent, or employee of a state entity, local governmental entity, or law enforcement agency who knowingly and willfully violates this chapter.”

House bill is very similar

HB 697 was sponsored by Larry Metz (R-District 32) and co-sponsored by 19 other representatives. The 20-page bill’s requirements and provisions are very similar to those of HB 786.

For more information, visit the Florida Legislature’s website,