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Immigration Law

Florida’s Racist Anti-Immigrant Bill Overturned in Federal Court

Coalition email, Sept. 22, 2021: "A federal court ruled that key sections of Florida’s anti-sanctuary law violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, delivering a decision that strikes a major blow to the state’s anti-immigrant policy makers and a decisive victory for communities who fought to defeat the law beginning in 2019. In response to the Judge’s 110-page decision, the coalition released the following joint statement:

“This ruling is a victory for immigrants across the state of Florida. This law was clearly developed to encourage racial profiling, civil rights violations, isolation of immigrant communities, and unjust deportations. It did more harm for the causes of public safety than good.

This should send a clear message to Gov. DeSantis and all those proponents of this racist law that they will not go unchallenged.”

Advocates proved that the law, known as S.B. 168, undermines public safety and increases racial profiling, and that it was designed with the consultation of anti-immigrant hate groups.

In today’s ruling, Judge Beth Bloom wrote, “[T]he Sanctuary Prohibition was enacted based on biased and unreliable data generated by anti-immigrant hate groups FAIR and CIS, despite the chilling effect and disparate impact that this provision would have on immigrant communities. Moreover, the Best Efforts Provision anticipated and intended to grant law enforcement officers expansive discretion on when and how to use their ‘best efforts,’ despite the knowledge that such proactive policing measures were likely to increase the amount of racial profiling that occurs during law enforcement interactions.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Community Justice Project, and University of Miami School of Law’s Immigration Clinic on behalf of nine organizations, including Florida Immigrant CoalitionFarmworker Association of FloridaWeCount!Americans for Immigrant JusticeHope Community CenterQLatinxWestminster Presbyterian United ChurchThe Guatemalan-Maya Center, Inc., Family Action Network Movement and the City of South Miami.

In 2019, the Florida Legislature passed SB 168, a law requiring local law enforcement agencies to use their “best efforts” to comply with the enforcement of federal immigration law. SB 168 also prohibited localities from adopting sanctuary policies. The Plaintiffs challenged SB 168, asserting the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Both the “best efforts” provision and the prohibition against sanctuary cities were struck down with today’s ruling.

The case, City of South Miami, et al. v. DeSantis, et al., was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.

Today’s order can be found here: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/de_201-_order_sb_168_trial.pdf

CONTACT:

Melissa Taveras, FLIC, melissa@floridaimmigrant.org, 786-663-6690 

Marion Steinfels, SPLC, marion.steinfels@splcenter.org, 202-557-0430

Rebecca Sharpless, UM Immigration Clinic, rsharpless@law.miami.edu305-284-3576

Nadege Green, Community Justice Project, nadege@communityjusticeproject.com "