Florida Sued Over New Immigration Law

SB 1718 makes it a felony to transport undocumented immigrants across state lines
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2023 6:15 PM CDT
Florida Sued Over New Immigration Law
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Family Leadership Summit, Friday, July 14, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida is being sued in federal court over a new immigration law that plaintiffs say could lead to "unlawful arrest, prosecution, and harassment." Senate Bill 1718, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May and took effect on July 1, makes it a felony to knowingly transport an undocumented immigrant across state lines into Florida, NBC 6 reports. Advocacy groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU Foundation of Florida, which is suing on behalf of the Farmworkers Association of Florida, say the law is unconstitutional and "anti-immigrant."

The law puts "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," the lawsuit states, per Politico. "Families may be unable to visit each other across state lines. Parents who live near the state border may be unable to drive their children to medical appointments or soccer match." The suit is seeking to block enforcement of the section of the law dealing with travel across state lines. SB 1718 also bans undocumented immigrants from using driver's licenses issued by other states and requires patients to document whether a patient is a US citizen.

The law is unconstitutional because it "impedes the federal immigration scheme by preventing immigrants from entering Florida," the lawsuit argues. One plaintiff is the director of a nonprofit in southern Georgia that takes immigrants to specialists in Jacksonville, Politico reports. The lawsuit states that she now fears prosecution "for performing a key aspect of her job, and for doing what she believes to be morally just," Politico reports. (Read more Florida stories.)

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