TALLAHASSEE, FL – A coalition of civil rights and immigrants’ rights leaders issued a travel alert today informing individuals traveling to Florida to anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights if Senate Bill 168 and House Bill 527 become Florida law.
These bills prohibit all localities in the state from adopting policies or procedures that limit entanglement with federal immigration enforcement. They also require each and every Florida county and municipality to expend already limited local resources to enforce federal immigration law, including complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detainer requests that could expose them to significant legal and financial liability – whose costs would ultimately be borne by Florida taxpayers.
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.
“I have good fortune because as a DACA recipient, I have the privilege of driving to school and work without fear of being criminalized,” said Nery L., Miami-Dade Organizer with the Florida Immigrant Youth Network (FLIYN). “That’s not the case for many of my family, friends and immigrant community, who run the risk of being criminalized every time they drive to work or while taking their kids to school. I remember my parents sacrificing their health to drive to get to work and support me and my three siblings. It was always a blessing to see them come home after working over 12 hours; always a relief when my mom would make it back home after driving my little brother to his autistic treatment appointments, knowing that every day they risked their lives to drive in order to bring food to the table and provide us with a home. Florida elected officials, this is your time to protect the immigrant community and say no to legislation that hurts our community."
In addition to the irreparable human cost these bills would create for immigrant communities and communities of color across the state, these bills would also expose counties and other government entities to potential legal and financial liabilities by forcing local authorities to comply with ICE’s flawed detainer system. Last month, a 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. Two cases were brought by U.S. citizens — Garland Creedle and Peter Sean Brown — who were held for ICE by Miami-Dade and Monroe County respectively. The third case is a class action against Miami-Dade County.
“ICE’s broken detainer system has wrongfully disrupted the lives and families of Floridians,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “If either SB 168 and HB 527 become law, 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.”
Besides issuing the travel alert, the coalition of civil rights and immigrants’ rights organizations has also issued information on the negative economic impact of this proposed legislation and has advised corporations doing business in Florida of these risks as well as the increased likelihood of constitutional violations of their clients traveling to the state.
“It’s shameful that the state of Florida seeks to further harass immigrant communities and erode public safety,” said Thomas Kennedy, Florida Immigrant Coalition Political Director. “Taking precious local resources away from law enforcement to further target Floridian families for deportation comes at an extremely high financial and moral cost. The insidious attacks against immigrants on the national level are being amplified by Florida lawmakers pushing for anti-immigrant policies. It’s more important than ever for immigrants to feel like they can turn to their local elected officials and police force to protect them. Instead, immigrant communities are being threatened, profiled, harassed and detained in greater numbers. Florida lawmakers need to realize that there will be consequences for attacking our families. 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.”
The following organizations are issuing the travel alert today and have provided more information on their respective websites, state-based partners include: ACLU of Florida, Alianza Americas, Engage Miami, Faith in Florida, Family Action Network Movement, FL Student Power, Farmworkers Association of Florida, FLIC Votes, Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees, Mi Familia Vota, Miami Workers Center, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, QLATINX, United We Dream, and WeCount!. National partners include: ACLU, Advancement Project, America’s Voice, Community Justice Project, National Latina Institute, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, and UndocuBlack Network.
Materials regarding the travel alert visit here: www.avisoflorida.org
Materials informing individuals of their rights when stopped by law enforcement in various languages can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/ice-and-border-patrol-abuses/we-have-rights