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Greg Steube files illegal immigration criminalization measure

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Anyone ordered out of the country and later found in Florida could be charged with a crime under legislation filed Wednesday in the Florida Senate.

The bill (SB 1358), sponsored by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube, would create a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The proposal would apply to anyone who “is denied admission to, is excluded, deported, or removed from, or who departs the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding and thereafter enters or is at any time found in the state.”

It creates an exception for those who can show that the federal government “consents to his or her admission or the person can establish that federal law does not require advance consent,” the bill says.

A voicemail seeking comment from Steube was left Wednesday.

Now, being in the country unlawfully is not a crime under federal law unless someone is deported and then returns without authorization, said Mark Schlakman, senior program director with the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.

Questions of its constitutionality aside, he said, its “practical implication … would disproportionately burden Florida taxpayers for what would otherwise be a federal responsibility.”

Stuebe, a former House member and first-term senator, already has filed a number of controversial bills for the 2017 Legislative Session, including gun- and public records-related measures.

He also filed a bill (SB 82) that would undo a 2014 state law granting in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students, known as DREAMers. It stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, federal legislation that has not been passed.

DREAMers are children who entered the U.S. illegally but allowed to stay under an Obama administration initiative called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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