Florida’s so-called sanctuary city ban signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 14 is being challenged by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed a lawsuit Tuesday morning on behalf of the City of South Miami and immigrant groups.
It’s the first lawsuit brought against the new law which prohibits local governments from enacting sanctuary policies and requires local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials to detain immigrants without warrants,
Among the groups challenging the sanctuary city ban include the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, WeCount!, Americans for Immigrant Justice, Hope Community Center and QLatinx.
“Diverting local resources to target Florida families for separation and deportation comes at an extremely high financial and moral costs,” said Isabel Vinent, interim executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “The attacks on the national level are being amplified on a statewide level in Florida.”
A sanctuary cities ban was one of DeSantis’ priorities as a gubernatorial candidate and he reinforced his support for such a ban during his inaugural address in January.
“Sanctuary cities basically create law-free zones where people can come to our state illegally and our country illegally, commit criminal offenses and then just walk right out the door and continue to do it,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, that will not happen.”
Immigration rights advocates say the law promotes racial profiling and can lead to deportation after minor offenses such as traffic violations. They say it also creates distrust between immigrant communities and local law-enforcement agencies a.nd threatens the breakup of families
The groups say they are seeking an injunction to block the implementation of the law which the suit claims “impermissibly authorizes and requires state and local law enforcement to perform the functions of federal immigration agents.”
The suit states that the law “encroaches into an area of exclusive federal authority and will interfere and conflict with the comprehensive federal immigration system enacted by Congress in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
The lawsuit also claims the law targets immigrants and people of color “who will be subject to arrest for deportation by state and local police, under circumstances not permitted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), even when the cities, and counties, and local law enforcement object,” the suit said.