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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Advocates are suing to block part of Florida's newest immigration law

Andrew Harnik
/
AP

In a case filed in federal court on Monday, groups argue the law puts Florida immigrants in harm’s way.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantishas made immigration a focal point of his presidential campaign. He’s decried President Joe Biden’s quote “weak” border policy and he’s made headlines for shipping migrants from red states to blue states.

Earlier this year, he signed what he calls “the strongest anti-illegal immigration law in the country.”

“We said that we were going to go big and today we deliver on that promise by signing bill 1718,” said DeSantis.

The bill (SB 1718) requires businesses with more than 25 employees to use the federal Verify system to check whether employees have the appropriate legal status to be able to work in the U.S.

It also requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to ask patients about their citizenship and it puts rules in place about transporting undocumented immigrants.

Emma Winger is a Senior Attorney with the American Immigration Council, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit.

Their complaint focuses on Section 10 of the law. That section makes it a felony to transport undocumented immigrants into Florida if they have not undergone an inspection by federal authorities.

Winger says those rules are vague and could lead to unfair treatment.

"A criminal law has to be clear so that people know what they’re doing is a crime. Because the law is unclear, this will lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement,” said Winger.

Evelyn Wiese, lawyer with the group Americans for Immigrant Justice, says Florida’s new law is not only broad, but runs afoul to what states can and cannot do.

“States don’t have the right to enact immigration law," said Wiese. "That is the power of the federal government and Florida has chosen to ignore that.”

The new law went into effect earlier this month, but lawyers are asking the judge to temporarily block it as the case moves forward.

Copyright 2023 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Adrian Andrews
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