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Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed Against Florida’s Ban On Sanctuary Cities


On July 16, Florida’s Attorney General and governor were sued by several organizations, businesses, and cities in Florida, challenging the law passed banning sanctuary cities and forcing police to enforce federal immigration law. The complaint filed alleges that the law implicates civil rights violations, racial profiling, and unjust deportations due to the what is known as the “best efforts” clause, which vaguely instructs law-enforcement to use their “best efforts” to apply the law (i.e., subjective judgment, which will inevitably lead to using race to judge immigration status).

Specifically, the law opens the door allowing people to be stopped for minor offenses, such as a broken tail light, possession of marijuana, and public intoxication, for example, so that those accused can be run through Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE)’s system and potentially be detained.

Concerns; Legal U.S. Citizens at Risk, Constitutional & Public Safety Concerns

Civil rights advocates have no doubt that this will also be to civil rights violations for people who are legal citizens: In fact, this already occurred with one man who was born in Philadelphia but almost deported to Jamaica due to requests from ICE.

A number of cities have also pointed out that there is a myriad of constitutional issues associated with the ban; for example, the fact that no cities have officially even been designated “sanctuary cities.”  Even the US Department of Justice has already stated that Florida does not technically contain any actual sanctuary cities and ICE’s policies involving requests to hold federal immigration detainees in local jails are unconstitutional. Those suing allege that the law violates Florida citizens’ right to due process and equal protection rights and. As a result, those suing over constitutional issues note that the law is a violation of the supremacy clause, as it also interferes with the ability of local governments to enact policies necessary to protect people because a fear of local law-enforcement will inevitably decrease crime reporting. The complaint also alleges that, given how vague the law is, it also arguably encourages Florida municipalities to engage in activities that could very well violate the law and opens them up to litigation.

According to the new law, every county first has to enter into a formal agreement with ICE in order to technically be in compliance, however, only a percentage of Florida counties thus far done so. Conversely, supporters of the bill claim that it is necessary to protect public safety from criminals.

Contact Our Florida Federal Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorneys

If you have been unfairly accused of an immigration crime, or experienced an infringement of your civil rights, contact our experienced Miami and Orlando civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.


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