Judge Reconsiders Scope of Injunction on Florida Immigration Law

A day after blocking part of a state law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, a federal judge reconsidered the scope of a preliminary injunction he issued.

U.S. District Judge Roy Altman initially applied the injunction statewide. However, on Thursday, he issued an order partially quoting an Arkansas case and stated, “Upon further reflection, and given the ‘national conversation taking place in both the legal academy and the judiciary concerning the propriety of courts using universal injunctions as a matter of preliminary relief,’ we now invite further briefing on the proper scope of the injunction.”

Altman, who was appointed to the federal Southern District of Florida in 2018 by former President Donald Trump, directed attorneys for the plaintiffs and the state to file briefs by June 6. They are to address whether the injunction should apply to plaintiffs with established legal standing, all plaintiffs remaining in the case, throughout the Southern District, or statewide.

The lawsuit, filed in July by The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. and individual plaintiffs, challenges part of a 2023 state law that threatens felony charges for transporting an immigrant who “entered the United States in violation of law and has not been inspected by the federal government since his or her unlawful entry.”

In issuing the preliminary injunction on Wednesday, Altman cited previous federal court rulings that consistently established immigration as a matter governed by federal law, not state 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 (the disputed section of the law) 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.

The law is one of several measures Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature have taken in recent years to target undocumented immigrants.

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