For Immediate Release
August 8, 2023
Contact: [email protected]
MIAMI – Today, legal organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and American Immigration Council, filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to block Section 10 of Florida’s draconian anti-immigrant law, Senate Bill 1718.
In a lawsuit, filed on July 17, the groups described how Section 10 of Senate Bill 1718 criminalizes the transportation of individuals into Florida who may have entered the country unlawfully and have not been “inspected” by the federal government since. The lawsuit alleges that it is unconstitutional for a state to unilaterally regulate federal immigration and subject people to criminal punishment without fair notice. It also stated that Florida’s use of the term “inspection” is incoherent and unconstitutionally vague.
The case was filed on behalf of the Farmworker Association of Florida and various impacted individuals, including U.S. citizens and undocumented drivers and passengers who routinely travel in and out of Florida, against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida Statewide Prosecutor Nicholas B. Cox and the state attorney general offices for all 20 of Florida’s judicial circuits.
In their motion, the plaintiffs are asking the court to block Section 10 in its entirety because it is an unconstitutional state law that regulates federal immigration and is unconstitutionally vague. Section 10 has put thousands of Floridians and residents of other states — both citizens and noncitizens alike — at risk of being arrested, charged and prosecuted with a felony for transporting a vaguely defined category of immigrants into Florida, even for simple acts such as driving a family member to a doctor’s appointment or going on family vacation. It is imperative for the court to prevent this unconstitutional law from causing irreparable injury to plaintiffs and countless other families, organizations and communities.
The motion can be found here.
A.J. Hernandez Anderson, senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project:
“Almost one million Floridians live in mixed-status immigrant families where undocumented parents, spouses and children share the same household as U.S. citizens and “Lawful Permanent Residents.” Florida’s draconian anti-immigrant law — SB 1718 — puts entire communities at risk when family members are afraid to drive their loved ones to receive medical care, attend church events, comply with immigration court requirements or harvest Florida’s crops. This law must be stopped. We are asking the court to halt the enforcement of this obviously unconstitutional and hateful law while we go through the court process.”
Amien Kacou, staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida:
“SB 1718 has unjustly changed the landscape for what it means to live as an immigrant in Florida, moving away from the ability to create safer conditions for our communities. This law has attacked our immigrant communities and shifted their livelihoods, leaving many with few opportunities in the state and forcing many to flee. Our elected officials have failed thousands of people who make up the fabric of our state and criminalized their friends and families for simple but critical tasks such as taking family members to immigration appointments or visiting family members in Florida. This law is cruel, it is intended to stoke fear and over-enforcement and should be immediately enjoined.”
Evelyn Wiese, litigation attorney with Americans for Immigrant Justice:
“The Constitution could not be clearer: the sole authority to craft and implement immigration laws belongs to the federal government, not states. Section 10 of Florida’s unconstitutional SB 1718 puts countless Floridians and residents of other states — both U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike — at risk of racial profiling and government intrusion into our lives. Our communities should not have to live with the harmful consequences of Section 10 until the law is ultimately struck down. Blocking Section 10 through preliminary injunctive relief would be the first step in preventing continued harm to our communities, and we will continue fighting until Section 10 is fully struck down in the courts.”
Emma Winger, senior attorney at the American Immigration Council:
“Florida’s anti-immigrant law serves only to sow fear in our immigrant communities and unfairly punish people for simply traveling with their immigrant family members, friends and co-workers. Our ask to the court is clear: step in where the Florida legislature failed – protect the rights of every Floridian and ensure that the state’s laws remain aligned with the principles of the Constitution.”
Spencer Amdur, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project:
“This law’s only purpose is cruelty. It threatens Floridians with jail time for doing the most ordinary things, like visiting family, going to work and driving kids to soccer games. Not only is that callous, it’s also patently illegal. Courts have been crystal clear that states can’t ban people from transporting immigrants. This law should never have been passed and it should be blocked immediately.”
Nezahualcoyotl Xiuhtecutli, PhD, general coordinator, Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc.:
“This law’s stated purpose is to instill fear in some of the most vulnerable groups in our country. It creates unnecessary hardship for workers with few protections and for many forced to travel seasonally to earn a living. Instead of rewarding them for the back-breaking labor that puts food on America’s tables and doing jobs nobody wants, we impose brutal hardships. This attempt to curtail the free movement of people is the kind of oppression we would expect from authoritarian regimes.”
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is 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. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.
ACLU of Florida
The ACLU of Florida is freedom’s watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our website at: www.aclufl.org.
Americans for Immigrant Justice
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. For more information, visit aijustice.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
American Immigration Council
The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on ImmigrationImpact.com and Twitter @immcouncil.
American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU dares to create a more perfect union — beyond one person, party, or side. Our mission is to realize this promise of the United States Constitution for all and expand the reach of its guarantees.