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Post: Judge Blocks Law Criminalizing Transportation of Undocumented Immigrants

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the provision of Florida’s anti-immigrant law that made it a felony to transport undocumented immigrants into the state. The recent ruling helped reassure the immigrant population in Florida, which has been under heightened law enforcement scrutiny. The anti-immigrant climate highlights the importance for non-citizens in Florida to understand their rights, even for those who are undocumented.

By consulting with a knowledgeable and dedicated immigration lawyer, individuals can better understand their legal options and rights, empowering them to navigate the complexities of the immigration system with confidence. The Orlando immigration attorneys at the Rivas Law Firm are committed to providing aggressive and experienced legal representation to defend immigrants’ rights. Call 407-644-2466 to speak with a skilled and aggressive Orlando Immigration Defense Attorney at the Rivas Law Firm.

Challenging the Legality of Florida’s Anti-Immigration Law

The decision to block the enforcement of Section 10 of SB 1718 came after a lawsuit was filed by a coalition of immigration advocacy groups, including the Farmworkers Association of Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Florida. The plaintiffs argued that the state’s attempt to regulate the transportation of undocumented immigrants was preempted by federal immigration law, which has exclusive authority over this domain.

Judge Roy Altman, a Trump-appointed federal judge, agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument, granting a preliminary injunction that blocks the state from enforcing the law until further notice. In his ruling, Altman emphasized that the law “extends beyond the state’s authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law,” effectively overstepping the state’s jurisdiction.

Concerns Raised by Florida’s New Immigrant Law

The blocked law had the potential to create a climate of fear and uncertainty within immigrant communities in Florida. Opponents say it deterred individuals from engaging in everyday activities for fear of being arrested and prosecuted. Three plaintiffs in the lawsuit expressed their concerns, stating that the law made them afraid to visit their own families or carry out their jobs. This law would have made it a crime to transport undocumented immigrants in Florida, even if the driver did not know the passengers’ immigration status. It would have disproportionately affected Latino and other immigrant communities.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that Section 10 of SB 1718 “unconstitutionally criminalizes the act of transporting a broad category of immigrants into Florida,” posing a significant threat to both citizens and non-citizens alike. The law’s vague language, which referred to the transportation of individuals “who have not been inspected by the Federal Government,” raised concerns that it could be interpreted to apply to a wide range of individuals, including lawful residents and even U.S. citizens.

This broad application of the law was seen as particularly problematic, as it could have led to the arrest and prosecution of individuals for simply engaging in routine activities, such as driving a family member to a doctor’s appointment or going on a family vacation.

The ACLU praised the court’s ruling, asserting that the law had “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.”

Orlando Immigration Attorneys

If you are facing immigration-related charges or consequences due to the new laws targeting undocumented immigrants in Florida, it is important to seek legal counsel. The experienced Orlando immigration attorneys at the Rivas Law Firm are dedicated to defending immigrants’ rights. Our firm is known for its aggressive and innovative advocacy, and our attorneys have extensive experience in handling a wide range of immigration matters, including criminal defense, family-based immigration, and deportation defense. Call 407-644-2466 to speak with an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney at the Rivas Law Firm.

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