Florida Immigration Law Stopped by Federal Injunction

A federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump blocked a provision in a Florida law aimed at curbing illegal immigration on Wednesday.

The law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) last year, allows law enforcement to arrest and charge someone for “knowingly and willfully” transporting an illegal immigrant who has not been inspected by the federal government since entering the country. It faced a legal challenge shortly after going into effect in July 2023.

Judge Roy Altman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted a preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing the law. He argued that the law is likely overruled by the federal government’s authority over immigration law.

“By making it a felony to transport into Florida someone who ‘has not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry,’ Section 10 extends beyond the state’s authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law and, in so doing, intrudes into territory that’s preempted,” Altman wrote in a court filing on Wednesday.

“Bound by Eleventh Circuit precedent, we hold that the Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their claim that Section 10 of SB 1718 is preempted by federal law — and that they have satisfied each of the other elements of their preliminary-injunction request,” he added.

The law is one of several across the country enacted by states seeking to impose state penalties on illegal immigration, which have been challenged by activists and other entities, including the Justice Department.

In Iowa, Texas, and Oklahoma, laws seeking to criminalize the presence of illegal immigrants have been challenged by the DOJ, which argues that it is the federal government’s authority to enforce immigration laws.

The Justice Department argued in a challenge to Oklahoma’s law earlier this week that it was acting to preserve its “exclusive authority under federal law to regulate the entry, reentry, and presence of noncitizens.”