Florida Sheriffs Challenge Department of Homeland Security

Apr 4, 2017

Sheriffs across Florida say the federal government is asking them to overstep the law in a move that will violate people’s civil rights.

At a press conference in Orlando Tuesday afternoon, members of the Florida Sheriffs Association said the Department of Homeland Security is asking them to detain people without probable cause.

In a weekly list, DHS is labeling local law enforcement agencies that do not do so as non cooperative. “We are standing strong from the standpoint of knowing the law and adhering to the constitutional rights,” said Sheriff Sadie Darnell of Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, one of a handful of Florida agencies on the weekly DHS list.

“We’re not going to seize someone—a human being—unless we have probable cause to do so under criminal law or authority to do so under civil law.”

Marion County and St. Lucie County have been named on past lists. Orange County Sheriff Demings, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association said that number could grow.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri, also a member of the FSA, called the situation frustrating. He added that the federal agency is misleading the public.

“We’re not cooperating the way they want because the courts have told us that we cannot do what they are asking us to do. We have no jurisdiction,” he said.

According to Gaultieri, at least nine courts have ruled that local agencies do not have the legal jurisdiction to enforce federal immigration policy.

As it stands, the only way a state or local law agency could detain someone is with the probable cause to do so under criminal law or authority to do so under civil law.

The Florida Sheriffs Association are calling for stronger communication with the Department of Homeland Security.