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House Republicans target ‘sanctuary cities'

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After a sometimes-emotional debate, House members Friday approved an immigration bill aimed at cracking down on so-called "sanctuary cities."

The Republican-dominated House voted 76-41 along party lines to pass the bill (HB 697), sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha.

But a similar Senate bill (SB 786), filed by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, has not been heard in committees as the annual legislative session prepares to enter its final week.

The House bill would take a series of steps designed to ensure that local governments support federal immigration enforcement efforts.

Metz and other backers of the bill pointed to a need to comply with the "rule of law" on matters involving undocumented immigrants.

"It is not acceptable for cities and counties in this state to disregard our immigration laws, for any reason," Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said.

But Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said undocumented immigrants have constitutional rights.

"We're talking about persons. Human beings. Not illegals. No person is illegal," Smith said