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SPLC Action Fund: Fla. communities endangered by unconstitutional immigration enforcement bill

The Florida Senate approved Senate Bill 168 today. It requires local law enforcement to assist in federal immigration enforcement.

The Florida Senate approved Senate Bill 168 today. It requires local law enforcement to assist in federal immigration enforcement.

For the second time this week we’ve seen the Florida Legislature pass an unconstitutional bill. The Florida House approved House Bill 527 earlier this week and now the companion legislation, Senate Bill 168, has also passed.

These bills waste taxpayer money, endanger our communities, separate families, 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 sheriffs’ departments vulnerable to costly litigation. We are all safer when everyone is free from being illegally held in jail.

SB 168 also 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 in immigrant communities would also be less likely to report crime to the police or cooperate with investigations, for fear of immigration enforcement against themselves or their community members. This would make it harder for police to solve crimes.

Finally, this legislation would inhumanely separate families, tearing apart parents and their children. This can have long-term traumatic effects on our youth and communities.

There are some minor differences between the House and Senate versions that must be merged together. But the Legislature would be better off just abandoning both bills. If that doesn’t happen, the SPLC Action Fund urges Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto this wasteful and unconstitutional legislation.

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