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Judge Blocks Florida Law Criminalizing Transport Of Illegal Aliens Into State

A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of a Florida law that criminalizes transporting illegal immigrants into the state.

The challenged law was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis a year ago, when southern border states were bracing for a flood of illegal immigrants following the scheduled expiration of Title 42, a public health order that allowed border enforcement agents to quickly expel those deemed at risk of bringing in COVID.

Touted by Mr. DeSantis and his supporters as the “strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country,” the law contains a provision that makes it a third-degree felony for anyone to “knowingly and willfully” transport into Florida someone whom “the person knows or reasonably knew … has not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry.”

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In a preliminary injunction issued Wednesday, Judge Roy Altman of the Southern District of Florida said the provision in question “extends beyond the state’s authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law, and in doing so, intrudes into territory that’s preempted.”

“In this case, any harm the state may suffer from an injunction is overweighed by the harm [the provision] poses both to the Plaintiffs and to the United States, which has the ultimate interest in protecting federal supremacy in the realm of immigration,” the Trump-appointed judge wrote.

The lawsuit was filed in July by the Farmworker Association of Florida, which describes itself as a “grassroots and community-based farmworker membership organization” serving seasonal workers as well as migrant workers who travel with the seasons to harvest crops.

According to its complaint, the Association members have to travel back and forth between Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, crossing back into Florida multiple times per year. With the transportation law in place, the Association said, some of its members became “too afraid to travel in and out of Florida with their undocumented friends or family members,” over the fear of being arrested or prosecuted.

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