The enforcement activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have skyrocketed during Donald Trump’s presidency. ICE has conducted surprise sweeps in communities across the country, often arresting hundreds of undocumented immigrants in a single raid. ICE arrests rose nearly 40 percent between 2016 and 2017, and the agency has stopped prioritizing undocumented immigrants with criminal records. CBP has similarly increased its reach, carrying out random searches in non-border areas.
Trump and some in his cabinet have been vocal in expressing their support for cities that cooperate with ICE and CBP. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in an August 2017 news conference in Miami, praised the city’s mayor for reversing sanctuary policies and cooperating with ICE and CBP. Conversely, Sessions threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal funding from cities that resist federal immigration crackdowns.
In January 2018, five months after Sessions’s Miami speech, Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill banning sanctuary policies. The bill coincided with an increase in ICE and CBP activities in Florida, including ICE raids in 7-Eleven stores in Orlando and Fort Myers and a CBP raid on a Greyhound bus, in which agents boarded the bus, demanded identification from all passengers, and arrested a woman who refused to comply. In October 2019, another Florida anti-sanctuary bill went into effect, requiring local law enforcement and state agencies to work with federal immigration officials in detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.
American Oversight seeks to find out whether officials in Florida and other states have coordinated with federal law enforcement agencies to target undocumented immigrants — and whether officials are using Florida as a testing ground for expanded immigration crackdowns nationwide.