Statement on Eleventh Circuit Ruling in City of South Miami v. DeSantis

For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2023

Media Contact: [email protected]

MIAMI — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Americans for Immigrant Justice released the following statements in response to the Eleventh Circuit decision in the City of South Miami, et al. v. DeSantis, et al., a case challenging Florida’s law prohibiting sanctuary policies and requiring local police to act as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The case was filed by Florida Immigrant Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida, WeCount!, Americans for Immigrant Justice, Hope CommUnity Center, QLatinx, Westminster Presbyterian United Church, The Guatemalan-Maya Center, Inc., Family Action Network Movement  and the City of South Miami. They are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Community Justice Project, the Immigration Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law and Akin Gump.

A.J. Hernández Anderson, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project:

“This is a disappointing decision, but importantly, it is a procedural ruling that does not go to the merits of our challenge. The District Court got it right – this law only encourages law enforcement to use their discretion as to who might be an immigrant based on nothing other than their appearance, and thus inevitably leads to racial profiling. The organizations that brought this lawsuit work closely with the immigrant community throughout the state and responded to the issues and concerns that arose when and since SB 168 was enacted. The appellate court’s decision erodes organizational standing and makes community access to the courts all the more difficult – particularly when hateful laws are passed that attack an entire community. We will continue to fight for justice and against the increased vitriol coming out of Tallahassee, in and out of the courts.” 

Lisa Lehner, director of the Litigation Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice:

“Americans for Immigrant Justice is profoundly disappointed by the Eleventh Circuit’s reversal of the District Judge’s decision that had enjoined the enforcement of SB168. The appeals court’s opinion fails to recognize and fully appreciate the impact of this legislation on the immigrant communities in Florida and organizations’, like AI Justice’s, efforts to serve and protect people vulnerable to racial profiling and continued discrimination based on their national origin.”


South Miami and Immigrant Rights Groups Sue Florida Over Unconstitutional Immigration Law (July 16, 2019) 

During the trial, the organizational plaintiffs provided compelling testimony on discriminatory impact of SB 168. Plaintiffs’ expert testified that the legislation was designed in close collaboration with anti-immigrant hate groups and concluded that SB 168 had both a discriminatory intent and impact, illustrating that the public safety rationale behind SB 168 was demonstrably false and primarily used to hide its discriminatory intent. In a 110-page decision, the trial court correctly ruled that key sections of SB 168 violate the equal protection clause, delivering a major blow to Florida’s anti-immigrant policy makers. The trial court found that Plaintiffs proved that SB 168 undermines public safety, increases racial profiling, and was designed in consultation of anti-immigrant hate groups. 


The Southern Poverty Law Centeris a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.Formore information, 

Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) is an award-winning non-profit law firm that fights for justice for immigrants through a combination of direct representation, impact litigation, advocacy and outreach. In Florida and on a national level, it champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocates for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serves as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; fights to keep families informed, empowered and together; and pursues redress on behalf of immigrant groups with particular and compelling claims to justice.