TILTON, N.H. -- Miami's two Republican presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both get applause when they campaign against federal funding for so-called "sanctuary cities," where local law-enforcement agencies limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
But advocates consider their home county of Miami-Dade to be such a sanctuary. And legislation passed by the Florida House on Wednesday that would ban the practice would, by the House staff's own analysis, affect Miami-Dade.
Asked about the state legislation while campaigning in New Hampshire on Thursday, Bush, a former Florida governor, cautioned against painting all cities and counties with too wide a brush.
"Miami-Dade County's version of a sanctuary city may be different than the one that exists in San Francisco, where they released convicted felons into the community rather than apply federal law," Bush said. "I don't think Miami-Dade was doing that. So you've got to be careful about the conversation."
He reiterated, however, that it shouldn't be OK for a local police department to defy immigration law. (The way Miami-Dade's policy works is that the police department cooperates with the feds on some immigration cases, but does not detain people flagged as being in the country illegally indefinitely.)
"I don't think there should be a violation of federal law by local communities knowingly doing it," Bush said. "There should be some restrictions. The idea of restricting federal law-enforcement dollars for communities that violate federal law and endanger their communities is appropriate.
"I don't think Miami-Dade County does that, though."