Federal Court Temporarily Blocks Key Provision of Florida’s Anti-Immigrant SB 1718

May 22, 2024
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MIAMI — A federal court today blocked Section 10 of Florida’s draconian anti-immigrant law, Senate Bill 1718. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Americans for Immigrant Justice, American Immigration Council, and the Southern Poverty Law Center successfully sought the preliminary injunction on behalf of the Farmworker Association of Florida and various impacted individuals.

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 a family vacation.

At a federal court hearing in December, the groups argued that Section 10 unconstitutionally inserts the state into immigration enforcement and asked the court to prevent the law from causing irreparable injury to families, organizations, and communities. 

Today the court agreed, and the following is reaction to the ruling:

Evelyn Wiese, litigation attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice: “Today’s decision marks an important victory for Floridians, visitors to Florida, and for the U.S. Constitution. We are gratified that the court recognized the harm that Section 10 does and temporarily blocked this unconstitutional law from remaining in effect, and we will continue to fight against it. But for now, this unjust and illegal law cannot be used to criminalize our clients or the community at large for transporting family, friends, or coworkers.”

Spencer Amdur, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project: “The court was right to block this callous and patently unconstitutional law, which had threatened Floridians with jail time for doing the most ordinary things, like going to work, visiting family, and driving kids to soccer games. This ruling is an important victory for Florida communities.”

Amien Kacou, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida: “This is a much-needed win for Floridians. For too long, our state has imposed a barrage of anti-immigrant laws and policies that harm citizens and noncitizens alike. This order recognizes the irreparable harm SB1718 is causing immigrants, families, and their communities by unconstitutionally usurping the powers of the federal government to subject them to cruel criminal punishment. We salute the courage of the individual and organizational plaintiffs who will continue to pursue this litigation.”

Emma Winger, deputy legal director of the American Immigration Council: “This ruling means freedom from fear and increased safety for families and communities of color in Florida. As states across the country are increasingly passing unjust and unconstitutional laws that target people because of their immigration status, it’s critical that our courts set a precedent for protecting these families at risk.” 

Anne Janet Hernandez, senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center: “We are pleased with the court’s decision to temporarily block implementation of SB 1718’s transport provision until our lawsuit is resolved. This law is unconstitutional and puts our plaintiffs, FWAF members, and the immigrant community at risk of arrest, prosecution, mandatory detention, and family separation.”

The ruling can be found online here.