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US Judge Temporarily Prevents Florida Law From Banning Transport of Migrants

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: May 28, 2024
The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a boat carrying around 150 migrants in Islandia, Florida, U.S., on July 21, 2022. (Image: Joe Raedle via Getty Images)

On May 22, a federal judge in the U.S. blocked part of a Florida law attempting to criminalize the transportation of undocumented immigrants into the state.

The law was created to amend “the crime of human smuggling to classify such cases as felonies,” Reuters reported. This law took effect in July 2023, and seeks to stop illegal immigrants from living and working in Florida. 

The decision came following a lawsuit by the Farmworker Association of Florida and seven others affected by the law. 

According to the New York Times, the lawsuit — filed in July — claimed that the law’s impacts were unconstitutional, asserting that 12,000 of the Association’s members were at risk of “irreparable harm.”

Headed by Roy K. Altman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, it cited claims from the plaintiffs that they were “now too afraid to travel in and out of Florida with their undocumented friends or family members,” fearing arrest, prosecution or the deportation of family members.

Though Altman denied the plaintiffs’ argument that the law was “unconstitutionally vague,” he agreed that the Florida law “extends beyond the state’s authority to make arrests for violations of federal law,” therefore violating pre-determined territory.

The blocking of the law has earned praise from immigrant-rights organizations, including the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

“It is a relief to see a judge rule impartially and fairly to uphold the laws of our country which our state is working so hard to break,” Renata Bozzetto, the Coalition’s deputy director, said in a statement.

“Our state government cannot pose itself as one of law and order while bending the Constitution or breaking federal laws. Furthermore, the clarity of Judge Altman’s ruling, understanding the ‘irreparable injury’ that Floridians with an irregular immigration status would suffer at the hands of this unjust and unconstitutional law, is spot on,” she continued.


Law under fire

The court case against the law only applies to the transportation of immigrants. 

The law as a whole was drafted by Republican officials whose focus is on the key issue of illegal border crossing; an issue that they claimed that President Joe Biden is failing to address.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has made immigration his primary issue following his recent attempt for the United States Presidency.

The law also restricts access to ID cards and forces businesses to use an electronic system for validation of eligibility to work.

A statement by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups championed the judge’s ruling as “a major victory for Floridians.”

“This order recognizes the irreparable harm [the law] is causing immigrants, families, and their communities by unconstitutionally usurping the powers of the federal government to subject them to cruel criminal punishment,” Amien Kacou, staff attorney for the ACLU’s Florida chapter, said.

Elsewhere, however, similar laws are already passed by Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma, which gives power to local officials to prosecute or deport anyone who “lacks legal immigration status.” 

Both the Biden administration and civil rights groups have been fighting to block the laws, claiming that they “interfere with federal enforcement of immigration laws.”

According to rights groups, should the ban on transport be placed in effect, thousands — including U.S. citizens — would be in danger.