Legal Advocates to File Lawsuit Challenging the Constitutionality of Florida’s Anti-Immigrant Law

For Immediate Release:
July 1, 2023 

Media Contact: [email protected]

MIAMI – The Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Americans for Immigrant Justice,  and American Immigration Council have announced they will file a federal lawsuit challenging Florida’s draconian Senate Bill 1718, which goes into effect today, July 1. 

The groups are suing, charging the discriminatory anti-immigrant law poses a threat to the rights and well-being of every individual in the state. 

The lawsuit will be filed against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on behalf of several individuals and the Florida Farmworkers Association — an immigrant rights organization focusing on social, political, economic, workplace, health, and environmental justice with and for farmworkers — contending that the law not only violates the fundamental rights of people in the state, but undermines the cultural richness and economic contributions of immigrants.

The lawsuit will specifically focus on the detrimental provisions outlined in Section 10, which criminalizes the transportation of individuals into Florida who may have entered the country without federal inspection.

The following comments are from:

Paul R. Chavez, senior supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project:

This attack on our immigrant communities will not stand. Purposely designed to inflict cruelty, SB 1718 is unconstitutional and undermines our democracy. The sole and exclusive power to regulate immigration policy is granted by the U.S. Constitution to the federal government, not the states. Gov. DeSantis’ attempt to create a separate, competing state-run immigration enforcement system impedes the federal government’s ability to do its job. This bill’s punitive effect will erode public safety and public health, pushing millions of mixed-status families into the shadows, and making them ripe for exploitation. When people fear reporting crimes or seeking medical treatment, this impacts us all. We are committed to ensuring that immigrants are treated fairly, equally and with dignity.”

Amien Kacou, staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida

“We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: SB 1718 is an attack on the fabric of our state. It is an extreme act of state government overreach aimed at inciting fear and criminalizing immigrant communities — from families going about their daily lives to workers desperately needed for our economy, especially during a labor shortage. This law is already inflicting long-term damage on the state for the sake of short-term partisan gains. We will stand with the Constitution to affirm the rights of our communities in hopes of redirecting Florida toward a better future.”

Shalyn Fluharty, executive director at Americans for Immigrant Justice:

“We are fighting back against this unconstitutional law that makes Florida communities afraid and unsafe. Floridians deserve a state government that protects and empowers them, and we will challenge all attempts to harm our communities. Florida has a proud history of welcoming immigrants, and our future prosperity depends on continuing down a path of welcome for all people living in the Sunshine State — regardless of their birthplace or immigration status. To all of Florida’s immigrants: you are welcome here and we are taking a stand with you.”

Kate Melloy Goettel, legal director of litigation at the American Immigration Council:

“Florida’s anti-immigrant law perpetuates harmful stereotypes and fosters an atmosphere of fear and hostility. This misguided legislation not only targets immigrants and their families, but it also jeopardizes the fabric of Florida’s communities, as well as the state’s economy. Our lawsuit seeks to ensure the fundamental rights and dignity of every individual in the state — regardless of their immigration status. No one should live in fear or face discrimination based on their immigration status, their presumed immigration status or the immigration status of their family members.”