DeSantis Signs Immigration Enforcement Bill, Announces ‘Strike Force'

DeSantis, flanked by law enforcement officers, signed Senate Bill 1808 at a news conference in Escambia County Friday morning

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an immigration enforcement bill Friday and announced a "strike force" that's focused on illegal drug smuggling and human trafficking.

DeSantis, flanked by law enforcement officers, signed Senate Bill 1808 at a news conference in Escambia County Friday morning.

The bill, passed by the state senate earlier this year, requires state law enforcement agencies with county detention facilities to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce immigration laws.

DeSantis said one of the goals of the bill is to avoid so-called "sanctuary cities" in Florida.

"We don't want to be like San Francisco or L.A. or some of these states where they're basically just sanctuary jurisdictions and the rule of law has effectively been suspended, that's not gonna fly in the state of Florida," DeSantis said Friday.

The bill also penalizes contractors that the federal government hires to relocate undocumented immigrants in Florida, making them ineligible for state contracts, DeSantis said.

DeSantis also announced a "strike force" comprised of Florida Highway Patrol troopers, Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers and sheriff's office deputies that's working to interdict illegal drug smugglers and human traffickers.

The force has already arrested seven for human smuggling and drug possession in northwest Florida, including five people from Honduras and two from El Salvador, and recovered enough Fentanyl to kill some 2,000 people, DeSantis said.

One of the suspects had an active Interpol warrant, the governor said.

"We do not want this in our state and so we are going to react very strongly against that," DeSantis said.

The Republican governor, who is up for reelection this year and could eyeing a 2024 presidential run, has taken a hard-line stance on illegal immigration. He has been attacking the administration of President Joe Biden for months, alleging in a lawsuit filed last year that Biden’s policies are luring more immigrants to the border.

DeSantis said the federal government has been "farming out" people to Florida from the border without telling the state how many are coming or giving any information including their COVID status or possible criminal record.

DeSantis added that the state is being saddled with the financial health and public safety costs associated with the policies.

Last summer, DeSantis deployed 250 state law enforcement officers to Texas to assist with border patrol, after the state's governor requested assistance in stopping illegal crossings.

DeSantis on Friday also said he's filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to examine international human smuggling networks and their effect on Florida.

The grand jury will investigate local governments that are aiding smugglers by intentionally violating Florida law against sanctuary jurisdictions, DeSantis said.

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