Florida, the third state with the most undocumented in the country, has as of Monday one of the strictest anti-immigrant laws, although activists are already working to file a lawsuit to achieve its repeal by considering it “unconstitutional.”
Law SB 168 prohibits the so-called “sanctuary” cities, which refuse to collaborate actively with the federal immigration authorities in their process of deporting undocumented immigrants, although there is no jurisdiction that has been declared as such in this state with a 20% immigrant population.
But it goes further. The new rule requires all state agencies, municipal governments and police departments to enforce federal immigration law and also work with federal agencies such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain and deport immigrants. .
This collaboration includes the controversial “detainers” or requests from ICE to keep them in prisons for deportation to detainees, often for minor infractions, although there is no order in this regard from a judge or prosecutor.
The political director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Thomas Kennedy, told Efe on Monday that this group of activists in favor of immigrant rights collaborates with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to sue the state government by this law.
They began working in the spring in this judicial action, about which he did not want to advance details, when he realized in the middle of the last legislative period that the Republicans were going to approve a measure that would make a “battle” inevitable in the courts.
For SPLC it is a law that violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which “prohibits capture without reason” and anticipates “costly litigation” to local authorities for keeping immigrants in detention without a warrant.
Although it came into force this Monday, the law gives three months of margin to the police authorities to initiate this active collaboration with ICE before beginning to sanction the jurisdictions that refuse to do so.
While the judicial battle begins, groups of defense of the civil rights and of the immigrants continue with their task of informing the undocumented people that, whatever their immigration status, they have constitutional rights.
Therefore, they emphasize that no policeman should ask about the migratory situation of the people and remind them that they can remain silent and not answer the agents, ask for the assistance of a lawyer and refuse to open the door of their house.
However, they recognize that there is “fear” in the immigrant community in Florida, both because of the entry into force of this law, and the announced raids against undocumented people throughout the country, later postponed for two weeks.
This weekend, President Donald Trump said they plan to conduct these raids in search of undocumented families and that these would take place after the July 4 holiday unless something “miraculous” happens in negotiations with the Democrats in the Congress on a new asylum law.
Kennedy lamented that this hostile environment has led many immigrants not to want to report crimes they witness or victims, such as a woman who explained that she was raped by a man who threatened to report her to ICE if she went to the authorities.
In that fear lives the immigrant Nery L., who fears that by SB 168 their family and friends are “criminalized every time they drive to work or take their children to school.”
“Today is a sad day of fear for us, too many elected officials in Florida have turned their backs on our immigrant community in approving this deportation bill,” he said.
And similar initiatives had failed in previous years in the Florida Legislature, but the firm support of the governor, Ron DeSantis, since he arrived at the office earlier this year gave a key boost to the final approval of the measure.
For this reason, FLIC also focuses on the political aspect of the law, to “change the balance” in the Legislature and State Government, dominated by Republicans.
“We must punish the candidates” who support this type of measures, such as the state governor, who described him as “extreme right” and faithful follower of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
DeSantis signed SB 168 in mid-June despite opposition from activists who issued a travel alert to Florida in April because of the possibility of an increase in cases of “racial discrimination, unjust detention and deportation” under this law and the possible economic consequences that could have.
According to a study by the New American Economy group, the state’s economy will lose 3,500 million dollars due to the entry into force of the immigration law due to the reluctance of many immigrants to visit the region, which would affect one of the pillars of Florida’s welfare. The tourism.
Kennedy did not rule out that they can “escalate” the travel alert and request an economic boycott against Florida like Arizona suffered after passing SB1070 in 2010, which granted police power to question the immigration status of people they suspected were undocumented