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Federal judge halts major provision of Florida’s recent immigration legislation | Tampa

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Federal Judge Blocks Key Part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Immigration Law

Federal Judge Blocks Key Part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Immigration Law

In a significant blow to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, a federal judge has blocked a key part of a 2023 law that aimed to impose felony charges on individuals who transport undocumented immigrants. The ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Roy Altman, found that the law “intrudes upon territory” under the responsibility of the federal government.

The lawsuit, filed by The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. and individual plaintiffs, challenged a section of the law (SB 1718) that threatened felony charges for transporting immigrants who entered the United States unlawfully and have not been inspected by the federal government. The plaintiffs argued that the law was unconstitutionally vague and that the state lacked the authority to regulate immigration.

Judge Altman’s preliminary injunction prohibits state and local officials from enforcing the section of the law related to the transportation of undocumented immigrants. Altman cited previous federal court rulings that established immigration as a matter governed by federal law, not state law.

The ruling was praised by civil-rights groups representing the plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Spencer Amdur, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, called the law “callous and patently unconstitutional” and hailed the ruling as an important victory for Florida communities.

While parts of the 2023 law remain in effect, including increased requirements on businesses to check the immigration status of workers and collecting data on hospital patients’ immigration status, the ruling represents a significant setback for DeSantis’ anti-illegal immigration agenda.

The governor signed the law last year, touting it as the most ambitious anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country. However, critics argue that the law imposes hardships on Floridians and travelers to the state, who now face criminal penalties for everyday activities like visiting family or seeking medical care.

The legal battle over the immigration law is likely to continue, with the plaintiffs’ attorneys arguing that the state’s classification of “inspected” migrants is not defined in federal law and puts state and local officials in the difficult position of determining immigration status without federal guidance. The ruling sets the stage for further legal challenges to DeSantis’ immigration policies and underscores the ongoing debate over the role of states in regulating immigration.

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