In its filing, the Southern Poverty Law Center claims that Florida has–in effect–developed an illegal system of parallel immigration enforcement that usurps the federal government’s authority over immigration enforcement matters.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and other non-profit organizations have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue overstepped their authority to enforce immigration law, “infringing upon the federal government’s immigration system by creating a separate, parallel system.”
According to CNN, the lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other legal advocates on behalf of immigration rights groups.
“Florida’s attempts to create its own immigration system came to a head on September 14, 2022, when individuals acting at the direction of defendants sowed chaos and confusion by fraudulently inducing approximately 50 Venezuelan and Peruvian migrants, all of whom had been processed into the US by immigration authorities, into taking a flight from Texas to Massachusetts, falsely promising them aid, jobs, and more,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit specifically alleges that Section 185 of Florida Senate Bill 5001, passed earlier this year, is unconstitutional and in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.
The Supremacy Clause dictates that federal law is to always take precedence over conflicting state laws.
Section 185, notes CNN, allocates funding for the removal of migrants from Florida.
“Since the passage of Section 185, defendants Gov. DeSantis and Secretary Perdue have taken direct action to implement Section 185 by transporting asylum seekers from Texas to Massachusetts,” the lawsuit states.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies have asked that the court find Section 185 unconstitutional, as it “can only be explained as irrational prejudice against “unauthorized aliens,” in contravention of both the Supremacy Clause and the 14th Amendment.
The 14th Amendment explicitly states that “no state […] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
As LegalReader.com reported earlier this week, Florida’s Republican government had not, in fact, deported immigrants residing in Florida.
Instead, the state sent so-called “recruiters” to Texas, where they incentivized asylum-seekers with gift cards, coupons, and promises of employment opportunities to incentivize them to board flights to an unspecified “northeastern city.”
The migrants were subsequently flown first to Florida, and then onward to Martha’s Vineyard in coastal Massachusetts.
Critics have lambasted the “deportation” as an obvious publicity stunt.
The Miami Herald notes that the DeSantis administration had clearly attempted to “wriggle around a require that Florida use the money to export Florida migrants.”
However, the Southern Poverty Law Center observed that, while Section 185 authorizes expenditures to remove migrants from Florida, it may not permit the state to simply send asylum-seekers to other regions of the United States.
“This stunt was paid for pursuant to Section 185 of the 2022 General Appropriations Act; that program, which we argue is unconstitutional on its face, was created solely to transport migrants out of Florida, not between other states,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said.
In a media release, the organization emphasized its belief that Florida has overstepped its authority by usurping immigration enforcement responsibilities ordinarily assumed by the federal government.
“The Constitution is clear — the sole and exclusive power to regulate immigration policy is granted to the federal government, not the states,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement. “The scheme by Gov. DeSantis and the state of Florida to use taxpayer funds for the ‘relocation’ of ‘unauthorized alien’” is a blatant and unlawful attempt to harass immigrants at the state level.”