17 states back Florida in sanctuary cities legal fight

by | May 27, 2022

 

 

Attorneys general from 17 states backed Florida in a legal battle with a U.S. court of appeals regarding a 2019 law that banned sanctuary cities in Florida. Originally struck down as a constitutional violation, the consortium of top state prosecutors seeks to remove a permanent injunction against the law’s passage.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who proclaimed a sanctuary city ban to be one of his priorities in his first year as governor, signed a measure prohibiting such cities in 2019. The law bans so-called sanctuary cities in Florida designed to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

“Earlier this year, I made a promise that we would ban sanctuary cities in Florida, and today we are delivering on that promise,” said DeSantis at the time of the bill signing. “I am proud to sign the bill presented to me by the Florida Legislature to uphold the rule of law and ensure that no city or county jurisdiction can impede Florida’s cooperation with our federal partners to enforce immigration law. This is about public safety, not about politics. We must do everything within our power, and use all the tools available to us, to ensure that our communities are safe.”

Shortly after the law’s signing, the city of South Miami and several groups, such as the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the Farmworker Association of Florida, sued. U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom initially dismissed parts of the case in 2019 but allowed other parts to move forward.

Now, the 17 attorneys general filed a 41-page brief at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting Florida’s attempt to overturn Bloom’s ruling that blocked aspects of the law, News Service of Florida reports.

The friend-of-the-court brief, led by the attorneys general in Alabama and Georgia, said Bloom “ascribed racial animus to the Florida Legislature with no justification whatsoever.”

“The district court might (and clearly does) disagree with Florida’s political judgment about whether immigration laws should be enforced, but that should not be relevant,” the brief said. “This (11th Circuit) Court should undo the district court’s openly partisan ruling and put an end to this practice of legislation by judicial fiat.”

The brief also said courts are required to follow a “presumption of legislative good faith.”

“It has become increasingly common for courts to invalidate state laws not because there is evidence of any racial intent but because courts assume that certain policy positions (like opposition to unlawful immigration) are inherently suspicious,” the brief continued. “The district court here joined that growing chorus of federal courts holding SB 168 to be racially discriminatory because its supporters opposed unlawful immigration. That flips the presumption of good faith on its head, and this (11th Circuit) Court should emphatically reject that outcome-based reasoning.”

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