Florida Lawmakers Are Already Proposing Anti-Immigrant Bills for 2018

State Sen. Greg Steube
State Sen. Greg Steube Florida House of Representatives
click to enlarge State Sen. Greg Steube - FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
State Sen. Greg Steube
Florida House of Representatives
Another year in Florida means another wave of clearly unconstitutional attempts to crack down on brown people. State legislators this month began filing their first bills of the 2018 session, and North Florida state Sen. Greg Steube, a man who simply cannot stop himself from filing insane laws designed to hurt people, has already begun flinging anti-immigrant crackdowns at the wall to see what sticks.

This past August 23, Steube filed a bill that would make it a third-degree felony to enter the state of Florida if you've been deported from the country in the past. Violators could be subject to five to ten years in prison or a $5,000 fine.

Steube proposed a nearly identical bill last year, which failed largely because there's already a federal reentry law on the books that fines violators or puts them away for two years in the federal system. And thanks to an extremely basic clause in the U.S. Constitution, state laws cannot supersede federal ones.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court was forced to remind state legislators that the Supremacy Clause exists, after Arizona passed its own, extremely draconian anti-immigrant law that let cops ride around and racially profile pretty much anyone who looked Latino. The landmark ruling, Arizona v. United States, established in plain English that immigration law is the purview of the federal government and that states cannot set immigration law.

New Times has asked Steube repeatedly why he's been dead-set on proposing anti-immigrant bills over the past ten months. He has not yet responded to an email yesterday afternoon asking if he's aware of the Supremacy Clause or the Arizona case. Steube is a lawyer, so he should understand why trying to flout federal law is a problem.

The Sarasota Republican proposed so many batshit-crazy bills last year that New Times was forced to write a ten-item list to cover them all.

Steube wanted to let citizens carry guns in airports (and then doubled down on his idea after a gunman shot innocent people at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport). He sponsored a bill to make abortion illegal in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy. He wanted to ratchet up felonies for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. He wanted to gut the state's public-records law, make "sanctuary cities" illegal, and punish anyone who runs a "gun-free zone" if someone gets shot inside the area.

Given the sheer number of bad ideas Steube has proposed, it makes sense that a few of them passed: He imposed new mandatory-minimum prison sentences to ensure that more heroin addicts go to prison instead of getting treatment, made it easier to claim you were "standing your ground" in Florida if you kill someone, and let any parents of public school kids object to any science they don't like in their kids' textbooks. Someone needs to stop this man.

Of course nobody will stop him, because Steube is from a nightmarishly conservative district and his views make rich people really, really happy. Earlier this year, Americans for Prosperity Florida (AFP), a group run by the Koch brothers, released a voting "scorecard" that tallied how often Florida lawmakers vote in line with the Kochs' deeply libertarian viewpoints. AFP gave 50 legislators an A+ for voting in step with the group 100 percent of the time.

Lawmawkers received extra points if they proposed their own hard-right bills, and Steube pitched so many last year that the Kochs gave him a 140 percent approval rating. He'll probably be governor one day.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.