Say No to Compromising Public Safety
Dear Florida State Legislators,
As faith leaders from many different traditions, we write with grave concern regarding the numerous anti-immigrant legislation under consideration in the Florida state legislature. As people of faith, we look first to our common values rooted in our sacred texts that remind us to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourner among us. As Leviticus 19:34 (CE) reminds us:
“Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens.
You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”
Part of our nation’s legacy is the hard work and determination of immigrants and refugees who helped found and build it up through successive generations. By recognizing this proud heritage, we must also recognize the valuable contributions immigrants and refugees continue to bring to our communities and economy.
House Bill 9 and its Senate companion SB 308 have been introduced as public safety measures. But as currently presented, this legislation will lessen safety in Florida’s communities and cities. It compromises public responsibilities, adds unfunded burdens on local law enforcement, and disregards the valuable contributions immigrants make in our communities.
HB 9 / SB 308 forces local police, and perhaps even schools, to serve as immigration enforcement officers who must report and detain immigrants solely for being undocumented. This bill would reverse years of intentional, community-based policing efforts that seek to welcome the participation of immigrant communities in neighborhood public safety programs across Florida. Precious trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities will deteriorate under this bill. We all are safer when everyone can report dangerous situations and seek protection from violence without the fear of being separated from their families and deported.
Providing for public safety is an essential role of government. This bill does the opposite because it erects barriers between local authorities and immigrant communities. Florida is a compassionate state that makes the welcome of people from other countries an integral part of our way of life. We are a great state because we love our neighbor, welcome immigrants, and care for the most vulnerable among us. HB 9 / SB 308 repudiates our heritage of welcome and the values of our faith traditions. We pray that you do not adopt this legislation.
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