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Florida's HB 9 would violate Constitution, make communities less safe

HB 9 is bad policy that would violate the Constitution, waste taxpayer money, make our communities less safe, and expose local law enforcement to costly civil rights lawsuits.

By forcing local and state police to detain people for federal immigration authorities without probable cause, this law would violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizure, making police and sheriff’s departments vulnerable to costly litigation. It would also force local law enforcement agencies to use their limited resources to provide scarce jail beds to hold people beyond their original release dates.

HB 9 is also unfair to local and state police because it would require them to verify proof of lawful presence of the people they arrest. We don’t ask our local cops to learn the federal tax code, and we shouldn’t require them to master the federal immigration code, either.

Further, this bill would make our cities and towns less safe by requiring local law enforcement to spend less of their limited time and resources fighting crime, and more on enforcing federal immigration laws. People would also be less likely to report crime to the police or cooperate with investigations, for fear of immigration detention and deportation. This would make it harder for police to solve crimes.

Finally, this bill consigns immigrants to being detained in jails in violation of the Constitution. We are all safer when everyone is free from being illegally held in jail.

The SPLC urges the House to kill this wasteful and unconstitutional bill.