ACLU Warns Against Travel to Florida by Immigrants & People of Color

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The American Civil Liberties Union issued a warning Tuesday for immigrants and people of color to avoid travel in the Sunshine State as lawmakers are poised to vote on two pieces of controversial immigration legislation.

“We and partners have issued a travel advisory urging immigrants and people of color to use extreme caution when traveling in Florida. The state is on the verge of passing a draconian anti-immigrant bill which will endanger our communities,” the ACLU wrote.

Here’s what you need to know:

A Wide Coalition is Supporting the Travel Advisory & Fighting Proposed Legislation

In addition to the ACLU, the Florida Immigrant Coalition warns that visitors could have their constitutional rights violated if the bills are signed into law.

“The world is watching Florida right now, and what we do next as a state will determine whether people will still want to visit us and if industry leaders still feel comfortable doing business with us.”

In a statement to WFLA in Tampa, the ACLU said, “The alert comes amid these bills’ steady progress in the Florida State legislature and cautions both Florida travelers and residents, especially Black, brown & Latinx communities, of the increased likelihood of racial profiling, unjust detention, and possible deportation if these anti-immigrant bills pass.”

The 2 Bills in the Florida Legislature Call for Repeal of Sanctuary Policy & Require Cities & Towns to Identify, Report & Detain People Suspected of Being Undocumented

Florida Senate Bill 168 and House Bill 527 have looming votes and if approved, will become enforceable law this summer.

The Senate bill prohibits sanctuary policies and requires the state, and local governments including law enforcement and educators, to “support the enforcement of federal immigration law.”

In other words, it will be incumbent upon cities and towns to report and detain alleged undocumented people. Read the full text of the proposed law here:

View this document on Scribd

On the House side, the companion bill is similar but goes further: “It would also provide requirements concerning immigration detainers and provide a cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death attributed to sanctuary policy,” the ACLU says.

The laws would force municipalities to use their own resources in working with ICE on detaining undocumented people. Police would be de facto immigration agents with Florida taxpayer dollars funding the effort. The ACLU says that communities will bear the costs, and by extension the taxpayers, and the legal ramifications.

A March report “revealed that in just two years after agreeing to work with ICE, Miami-Dade County records showed that 420 people listed as U.S. citizens had false detainer requests issued against them. Its findings came on the heels of three lawsuits that have recently been filed against Florida authorities for holding people on detainers,” ACLU officials said.

Read the text of the proposed House bill here:

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The state Attorney General’s would be responsible for ensuring municipalities comply.

The ACLU, With State & National Partners Including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Says if the Bills Become Law, Profiling, Detention & Possible Deportation is Likely

“All Florida travelers and residents should be advised that you may encounter racial profiling, unjust detention, and possible deportation if anti-immigrant bills become law.”

The Florida ACLU Affiliate Also Warns Against Travel in Florida by Immigrants and People of Color

“If Florida State Bill 168 and House Bill 527 pass, it would undermine local governments’ ability to protect the civil rights of their residents by forcing local officials to cooperate with ICE.”

Florida ACLU director Micah Kubic said “ICE’s broken detainer system has wrongfully disrupted the lives and families of Floridians.”

He said if the bills pass, “then we’d find this disruption occurring on a statewide level. Forcing Florida law enforcement agencies to comply with ICE detainers only exposes themselves to damages liability for constitutional violations and threatens the civil rights of all Floridians. The Constitution guarantees that every person should have due process and the right to equal treatment, regardless of their citizenship.”

Petitions Have Garnered Thousands of Signatures of Those Opposed to Proposed Bills

A petition with more than 2,300 signatures reads: “Both of these proposals are nothing more than attacks on immigrant families, and would place undue burden on local governments, school districts, and law enforcement across the state of Florida.”

Proposals include charging “immigrants with a third-degree felony if they violate a deportation order” and fining “local government, law enforcement and school personnel who do not report undocumented immigrants.”

An Action Network petition for Florida small businesses to reject the bills has more than 6,000 signatures.

“Florida businesses and the state’s economy cannot afford this, and we need business leaders, like you, to speak out and denounce the hate in our state. This could cost Florida more than $3.5 billion in state GDP in just one year. But the true costs to our immigrant families will be incalculable.”

Some Are Criticizing the ACLU & Its Advisory