On Friday, The Florida House passed a controversial bill to ban "sanctuary cities" in the state.
This was a top priority for House leaders.
It would require all Florida government employees and universities to comply with federal immigration laws.
Pamela Gomez with the Florida Immigration Coalition has been fighting to protect the rights of immigrants. She calls the bill unethical.
That's why she traveled to Tallahassee to speak out against HB 9.
“That would be very harmful for our community because there is already distress in the immigrant community,” says Gomez.
Despite many organizations opposing the bill, it passed with a 71-35 vote.
Gomez's fear is that, if passed, the bill would discourage immigrants who are victims of a crime from seeking help.
“It would make police officers and even teachers having to turn over their students and people in their custody over to (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), which makes city employees federal immigration agents, which is ridiculous,” she says.
It would also criminalize immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and require local governments and universities to comply with federal immigration laws.
f these employees choose not to comply, they would face fines of up to $5,000 a day along with possible suspension or removal from office.
HB 9 was inspired by the 2015 fatal shooting of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.
Her killer, Jose Zarate, was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. He had previously been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.
He was acquitted of her murder.
Anti-immigration activists and President Donald Trump blamed sanctuary policies for her death.
HB9 is now headed to the Senate. However, Senate lawmakers have refused to hear similar proposals in the past two years
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