Republican states support Florida in sanctuary cities ban trial | Florida News | Orlando

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Republican attorneys general from 17 states backed Florida this week in a legal battle over a 2019 law banning so-called sanctuary cities in Florida.

Attorneys general filed a 41-page brief with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting Florida’s attempt to overturn a district judge’s ruling last year that blocked key parts of the law. U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom pointed out that Republican lawmakers had “discriminatory motives” in passing the hotly debated measure (SB 168).

The amicus curiae brief, led by the attorneys general of Alabama and Georgia, said Bloom “attributed racial animosity to the Florida legislature without any justification.”

“The District Court could (and clearly does) disagree with Florida’s political judgment on whether immigration laws should be enforced, but that shouldn’t be relevant,” the brief says. “This (11th Circuit) court should reverse the district court’s openly partisan ruling and end this practice of legislation by court order.”

The brief also states that courts are required to follow a “presumption of legislative good faith.”

“It has become increasingly common for courts to strike down state laws not because there is evidence of racial intent, but because the courts assume that certain political positions (such as opposition to the illegal immigration) are inherently suspect,” the brief states. “The District Court joined this growing chorus of federal courts ruling that SB 168 is racially discriminatory because its proponents opposed illegal immigration. This reverses the presumption of good faith, and this (11th Circuit) court should emphatically reject this results-based reasoning.

The document echoes arguments made by the office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in a brief filed last week. This memoir stated that Bloom “made numerous errors in arriving at the remarkable conclusion that the Florida Legislature had covert racist motives in enacting SB 168”.

Bloom issued a 110-page ruling in September that found two main parts of the law violated constitutional rights to equal protection and issued a permanent injunction against them.

One of those parties prohibited state and local agencies from having “sanctuary” policies that would prevent law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration services.

The other part demanded that law enforcement agencies do their best to support the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Bloom, based in South Florida, dwelt at length on the Legislature’s crafting of the law and highlighted what she described as an “immigrant threat narrative” that contributed to drive there. She also cited the behind-the-scenes involvement of the Floridians for Immigration Enforcement group in promoting the law, including contacts with Senate Sponsor Joe Gruters’ office, R-Sarasota.

“Based on the evidence presented, the court finds that plaintiffs have proven by a preponderance of evidence that SB 168 has discriminatory or disparate effects on racial and ethnic minorities, and those discriminatory effects were both foreseeable and known to the legislature at the time of enactment of SB 168,” she wrote.

Lawmakers passed the measure in May 2019 along almost straight party lines, before Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it. The City of South Miami and several groups, such as the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the Farmworker Association of Florida, filed a lawsuit in July 2019. Bloom dismissed parts of the case in 2019 but allowed others parties to move forward.

Besides Alabama and Georgia, the Republican attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, from South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia signed this week’s brief.

Moody, DeSantis and the Republican-controlled legislature in recent years have taken a series of actions targeting immigration issues, including Moody’s filing lawsuits against the Biden administration over border enforcement.

The Legislature in March passed an immigration bill (SB 1808) that was a priority for DeSantis. The bill has not been officially sent to the governor for his signature.