Federal Judge Strikes Down Portions of Florida Law Banning ‘Sanctuary Cities’

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Claims bill was racially motivated because of groups involved in the process

Florida law prohibiting the establishment of so-called sanctuary cities, or municipalities trying to shield illegal immigrants from arrest, violates federal law, a federal judge ruled this week.

Florida Senate Bill 168 bars sanctuary policies, or policies that prohibit or impede law enforcement from complying with federal immigration law or that block law enforcement agencies from communicating or cooperating with federal immigration agencies.

The Florida Legislature passed the legislation in 2019 and Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed it into law.

But some of the groups that supported and were involved with crafting the law, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), have “been described as anti-immigrant hate groups,” U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom, an Obama nominee, wrote in her 110-page ruling.

“This involvement strongly suggests that the Legislature enacted SB 168 to promote and ratify the racist views of these advocacy groups.”

As part of the ruling, Bloom highlighted a press conference held by state Sen. Joe Gruters and state Rep. Cord Byrd with Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN) that highlighted victims of illegal immigrant criminals, including a couple who spoke about how their son was killed by an illegal alien who had been deported twice before reentering the United States.

“We are very, very proud to be here today with these groups of people and to stand with our Angel families—to end the kind of anarchy that does exist with the criminal activity of some members of the illegal alien population,” Karyn Morton, of FLIMEN, said at the time.

“By referring to immigrants as illegals, criminals, murderers, and victimizers, the press conference was clearly intended to cast immigrants in a demeaning and threatening light, thus demonstrating the speakers’ racial animus toward the immigrant population,” Bloom said.

By Zachary Stieber

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