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Federal Judge Blocks Part of Florida's Controversial Immigration Law

May 22, 2024 - A Federal Judge blocked a key provision of Florida Senate Bill 1718, a controversial law championed by Governor Ron DeSantis during his run for presidency in 2023 that included a provision that made it a felony to transport undocumented immigrants into the state. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman granted a preliminary injunction blocking that part of the law, finding that it “intrudes upon territory” under the responsibility of the federal government. In his ruling, Judge Altman cited well-establish precedent establishing that immigration is a matter governed exclusively by federal law, and found that Section 10 of SB 1718 impermissibly extends the state's authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law. For now, state and local officials in Florida are prohibited from enforcing the section of the law related to the transportation of people.

The injunction only blocks the enforcement of Section 10 related to the transportation of people, but the other provisions of SB 1718 remain in effect. These include provisions requiring all private businesses with 25 or more employees to use the E-Verify system to verify that all new hires are authorized to work, and provisions imposing state-level criminal penalties on employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers (which has already long been subject to Federal criminal penalties). It is estimated that over 40% of all agricultural workers in Florida are unauthorized, and in the year since its passing will have resulted in a loss of 10% of the state's entire workforce and loss of $12.6 billion of GDP.

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